ACKNOWLEDGE BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS
Genesis 42:1-38 May 4 2008
The famine that Joseph described in the explanation of Pharaoh’s dreams engulfed the world (Genesis 41:57) . Not only was Egypt affected , so also was the land of Canaan (Genesis 42:5). Because of Joseph’s God-given wisdom , Egypt had plenty of grin ; Canaan, however, had none.
Throughout (Genesis 42:1-38), several interesting developments emerge. First , Joseph was brought in contact with the brothers who sold him into slavery. Second, Joseph imprisoned them for three days. This imprisonment was not motivated by revenge, but rather Joseph exercised a benevolent confinement , buying himself time to develop a wise strategy for dealing with them , Third , Joseph learned for the first time that his oldest brother Reuben had no part in selling him into slavery (Genesis 42:22-23).
1. Remember Past Problems (Gen. 42:6-7,9)
Gen. 42:6 Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the one who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. 42:7 As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked. From the land of Canaan,” they replied, “to buy food.” 42:8 Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. 42:9 Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected.”
Bowed down. In fulfillment of Joseph’s dreams (Genesis 37:7,9).
Joseph recognized his brothers. Although at least 20 years had passed since he had last seen them (Genesis 37:2; 41:46,53-54), they had been adults at the time and their appearance had not changed much. They did not recognize him. Joseph, a teenager at the time of his enslavement, was now an adult in an unexpected position of authority, wearing Egyptian clothes and speaking to his brothers through an interpreter (Genesis 42;23). He was, moreover, shaven in the Egyptian manner (Genesis 41:14).
2. Explore Present Possibilites (Gen. 42:13-20)
Gen. 42:13 But they replied, “Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more.” 42:14 Joseph said to them, “It is just as I told you: You are spies! 42:15 And this is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 42:16 Send one of your number to get your brother; the rest of you will be kept in prison, so that your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If you are not, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!” 42:17 And he put them all in custody for three days. 42:18 On the third day, Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God: 42:19 If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households. 42:20 But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die.” This they proceeded to do.
My Lord. . . Your servants. Unwittingly, Joseph’s brothers again fulfilled his dreams and their own scornful fears (Genesis 37:8). As surely as Pharaoh lives. The most solemn oaths were pronounced in the name of the reigning monarch (as here) or of the speaker’s deities (Ps 16:4; Am 8:14) or of the Lord himself (Jdg 8:19; 1Sa 14:39,45; 19:6).
3. Evaluate Future Prospects (Gen. 42:21-24a)
Gen. 42:21 They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come upon us.” 42:22 Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.” 42:23 They did not realize that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter. 42:24 He turned away from them and began to weep, but then turned back and spoke to them again. He had Simeon taken from them and bound before their eyes.
How distressed he was. . . Distress has come upn. The brothers realized they were beginning to reap what they had sown (Gal 6:7) (Genesis 37:21-22 and Genesis 37:21).
Had simeon taken. Jacob’s second son (Genesis 29:32-33) is imprisoned instead of the firstborn Reuben, perhaps because the latter had saved Joseph’s life years earlier (Genesis 37:21-22).
Joseph brothers did not recognize him when they sought to buy grin in Egypt . Joseph accused them of spying as a way of gaining information from them without revealing his identity. Proclaiming their intention of buying grain , they denied Joseph’s charge of spying . They identified themselves as “12 brothers”. Since Jacob had sent only 10 brothers , they explained the younger , Benjamin, was with his father, and the other brother was “no longer living.” Consequently Joseph learned Jacob was still alive, Benjamin was with Jacob, and his brothers thought Joseph was dead.
From these “12 brothers” God eventually forged a nation. The descendants of these brothers developed into the 12 tribes of Israel that made up the “people of God.” When the tribe of Levi was singled out for special to God , Joseph’s tribe was split between his two sons , Manasseh and Ephraim , restoring the number of tribes to 12 . Centuries later, Jesus called 12 disciples, modeling the “new Israel ”after the “old Israel.” Some scholars believe the 24 elders of Revelation 4:4 represent the 12 sons of Israel and the 12 discipes of Jesus, thus encompassing all of God’s people.