Joseph - week 4, day 3

Today's scripture: Genesis 43:26-34 (NLT*)

When Joseph came home, they gave him the gifts they had brought him, then bowed low to the ground before him. After greeting them, he asked, “How is your father, the old man you spoke about? Is he still alive?” They replied, “Yes, our father, your servant, is alive and well.” And they bowed low again. Then Joseph looked at his brother Benjamin, the son of his own mother. “Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about?” Joseph asked. “May God be gracious to you, my son.” Then Joseph hurried from the room because he was overcome with emotion for his brother. He went into his private room, where he broke down and wept. After washing his face, he came back out, keeping himself under control. Then he ordered, “Bring out the food!” The waiters served Joseph at his own table, and his brothers were served at a separate table. The Egyptians who ate with Joseph sat at their own table, because Egyptians despise Hebrews and refuse to eat with them. Joseph told each of his brothers where to sit, and to their amazement, he seated them according to age, from oldest to youngest. And Joseph filled their plates with food from his own table, giving Benjamin five times as much as he gave the others. So they feasted and drank freely with him.

I consider myself a man of great control. After everything I have endured and conquered, that I should find myself weeping like a small child, unable to even look my brothers in the eye. I know that I should hate them. But they are still my brothers. And when I look at young Benjamin, all I can see is my mother’s face. He is a beautiful boy. Oh Lord, was I ever that young and innocent? And my father lives and is well. I never thought that this could be possible. But now, what am I to do next? They are here, within my power, and entirely dependent upon my goodwill. What will I do? Even I am not sure at this moment. It’s time. I need to pull myself together, wash my face, and walk back in to play the gracious host. I will see what they have to say, and observe them closely. Then I will know if I am to be a brother to them or an executioner. They were, after all, both to me.
— Joseph

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT...

  • When Joseph arrives at his home, the brothers are waiting for him with gifts. What do you think is going through the minds of the brothers at this moment? Through Joseph's mind?
  • What do you think the brothers made of Joseph inexplicably running from the room after blessing Benjamin?
  • If you were one of the brothers, and saw that this strange man had correctly seated you according to your respective ages, what would you have thought?
  • When they started out from Canaan, do you think the brothers imagined that they would end their journey by sharing a delicious meal in a luxurious home with a leader of a foreign country? What do you think they were feeling as they ate?

FOLLOW UP

"Separate servings are giving to Joseph, and to the brothers, and to the Egyptians, because of religious scruples (Joseph sits between communities!). This information shows that reconciliation has not yet truly taken place. The brothers are seated at Joseph's direction (i.e., 'before him') according to their age, a strange procedure at which the brothers are astonished: How would he know without being asked? Benjamin's portion is five times greater than that of his brothers, demonstrating pleasure at Benjamin's presence, though Joseph also wants to see the brothers' reaction to this favoritism. Benjamin may be the guest of honor, but the absence of any speech on his part (in the entire story!) diminishes his role. The comment about this being a happy occasion sets up the not-so-happy turn of events that follows." The New Interpreter's Bible, vol. I (Abingdon Press: Nashville, 1994, 635.


* Holy Bible, New Living Translation, © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation.