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Cultural Catwalk: Joseph and His Brothers – Genesis 42-44

For today’s graduates from Harvard’s School of Business, Joseph might come across as a wimp, settling for less, or not taking unfair advantage of the people around him. On the other hand, Joseph’s life demonstrates integrity, business acumen, morality, and success. Regardless, Joseph’s life skills and ability to interpret dreams came about because of his faith in God — more importantly, Joseph understood his stature before God — that God loved him, favored him, watched out for him, and gave him certain talents that God used to accomplish his purposes.

By this time, the famine in Canaan caused Jacob to send his sons to Egypt:

When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you just keep looking at each other?” He continued, “I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die.” (vs 1-2) However, Jacob made one stipulation:

… Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm might come to him (v 3). Hmm … why not send Benjamin also? Think about it — Benjamin was all Jacob had left of his and Rachel’s union, and the other ten brothers hadn’t taken care of Joseph. Why take the chance?

The ten brothers went; not knowing a crimp in their journey awaited them. They were required to petition the governor of Egypt in order to receive a ration of grain. Perhaps, it’s a good thing they didn’t know who the governor of Egypt was — they might have pleaded with Jacob not to send them.

… when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him (Joseph) with their faces to the ground. 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 (v 6).

After explaining they came from Canaan, Joseph brandished his authority over the brothers, but eventually gave them the grain and sent them on their way … read more.

Once the grain was consumed by his household, Jacob wanted to send the “boys” back to Egypt to get more.

But Judah [Jacob’s son] said to him, “The man warned us solemnly, ‘You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.’ If you will send our brother along with us, we will go down and buy food for you. But if you will not send him, we will not go down, because the man said to us, ‘You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.’” (v 43:3-5).

Jacob questioned his sons, because they were bringing additional trouble into his life. Judah tried to explain … read more.

After seeing Benjamin with his other brothers, Joseph instructed his steward to prepare a meal for him and his brothers, “… Take these men to my house, slaughter an animal and prepare a meal; they are to eat with me at noon” (v 16).

Since Joseph had returned the silver payment for the grain his brothers purchased on their first trip to Egypt, they became suspicious. They feared for their lives, so they went to Joseph’s steward and explained their situation … read more.

At dawn the next day, as Joseph’s brothers prepared to leave, they each had sacks of grain, but Joseph played a trick on them and had his steward put the silver payment back into their sacks, again, and his silver cup in Benjamin’s sack. Once Joseph’s brothers left, Joseph sent his steward after his brothers to confront them … read more.

At this point, we might be asking ourselves, “Why didn’t Joseph tell them who he was? What caused him to play games with his brothers?” We can understand that Joseph wanted to seek revenge. However, that tactic wasn’t compatible with Joseph’s character, was it? By the time we come to the end of Joseph’s story, the mysteries of Joseph’s actions will make sense.

Are you alienated from any of your siblings? Joseph’s story will help you bring reconciliation into the mix of these severed relationships in your life.

Next week: Joseph brings reconciliation.

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