11. First of all, considering what the brothers did to Joseph, and since I have a brother, I never read this passage thinking Joseph had plans for their good. A challenging exercise. Ah, question 12 calls them tests. That makes sense. However, I’m still not convinced he did this for their own good. It seems like he wants to see if they have changed.
a. Joseph is causing his brothers to fear him. This is reminiscent of the fear he felt when they put him in the cistern and later sold him into slavery. They mocked him when he told them his dream. Now it is literally coming to pass.
b. Was this to let them know what it felt like to be in the cistern, not knowing what would become of them? More fear and time to contemplate.
c. Simeon was one of the two brothers who killed all the men of the city where Dinah was raped. Genesis 49:5 calls them “equally headstrong, deceitful, vindictive, and cruel”. After the incident, Jacob says they have ruined him. (Genesis 34:30) When Joseph later releases Simeon back to his brothers, he displays mercy.
d. Benjamin was Joseph’s only brother of the same mother. Maybe he just really wants to see him. It also could be punishment for what they did to him and how their behavior devastated their father. Allowing Benjamin to come would put a great burden on the brothers and on the father. It always bothered me that Joseph would do this to his father.
e. Returning the money seems to be a part of the fear he is instilling in his brothers. His brothers received money when they sold Joseph.
f. Joseph shows favoritism toward Benjamin, but it makes his brothers even more afraid. They promised Jacob no harm would come to Benjamin, but this situation appears to incriminate him even more than the rest.
g. It was a personal item which would tend to incriminate Benjamin even more than the money. Joseph threatened to make the one found holding the cup become his slave. Since it was in Benjamin’s sack, this tested whether the brothers would again sacrifice the favored half-brother. . Perhaps a reference to the cupbearer whose life was spared(?)
h. Joseph’s insistence on keeping Benjamin tormented the brothers. They knew full well how much it would devastate their father after they did away with Joseph. Joseph really made them grovel. At least they didn’t
12. Genesis 42:21-22 The brothers equate this situation with their harsh treatment of Joseph, refusing to show mercy when he pleaded with them.
Genesis 42:28 “Their hearts sank” when they discovered the money returned to them. They asked, “what has God done to us?” rather than displaying greed.
Genesis 42:37 Reuben offers the lives of his own two sons if any harm comes to Benjamin. So does Judah in 43:9.
Genesis 42:20 The brothers told the steward about the silver returned in their sacks of grain, showing they had concern for the lives of their brothers and concern for their father.
Genesis 44:33 Judah offers to serve as Joseph’s slave in Benjamin’s place in order to spare the suffering of his father as he promised.
a. Almighty God
b. grant you mercy
c. let your other brother and Benjamin come back with you
d. As for me, if I am bereaved, I am bereaved.
e. Give God glory for who He is, acknowledge His interest willingness to intervene in things that concern our lives, present your specific request, seek to be in line with His will.
- His brother is dead, and he is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.
- …if my father, whose life is closely bound up with the boy’s life,sees that the boy isn’t there, he will die.
- …please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy…
- Do not let me see the misery that will come to my father.