God Meant it Unto Good — Joseph, part four

“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” Genesis 50:20 KJV

from Genesis 42, 43

It came to pass that Joseph’s brothers found that the famine had reached Canaan as well, and Jacob had heard that Egypt had grain. So he instructed his sons to go there and buy; but he held back Benjamin, for he didn’t want harm to befall him, causing more pain.

When they had reached Egypt, they bowed down before Joseph, who was prominently in charge, with their faces to the ground. From the dreams of his youth, this fulfillment of them was taking place before Joseph’s eyes–his, the main sheaf, and theirs gathering around.

Joseph recognized his brothers immediately; but he disguised himself to them and spoke harshly, by interpreter, accusing them of having a spy’s intent. The brothers declared that they were honest men, sons of one man, though their youngest brother had been kept back and had not been sent.

At that, Joseph reemphasized that he was sure that they were spies who had come to look at the undefended parts of Egypt’s land. Then he put them to a test of their truthfulness, saying that they needed to go home and bring their youngest brother back, by his command.

Then Joseph put his brothers all together in prison for the span of three days, after which he released all but one–Simeon, whom he bound. Joseph had heard their discussion. They didn’t know he’d understood what they’d said of how the evil they’d done to Joseph had now come around.

Joseph turned away from them and wept. He ordered his servants to restore their money into their sacks of grain for the journey back–not wanting to take his father’s money; and he gave other supplies. But his brothers were distressed later on when they found the money in each sack.

They worried that, in addition to being accused of being spies, they now would be accused of being thieves. Their concern increased…that God had done this to them because of their sin against Joseph. They didn’t know that Joseph ruled in Egypt and was not a slave nor deceased.

Arriving home, Reuben and Judah tried to reason with their father, that they needed to have Benjamin along on their next journey, as Joseph had said. Jacob resisted this strongly until finally giving in. He told his sons to take extra gifts along for this ruler, with double the money, before moving ahead.

They then returned to Egypt, this time with Benjamin along. When Joseph saw Benjamin, he ordered his steward to make ready a noon meal–and to bring the men to Joseph’s home. The brothers, however, feared that Joseph was going to accuse and ask them, “Why did you steal?”

So the brothers approached Joseph’s house steward about their fears, saying they’d come to Egypt only to buy food, with no ill intention. They didn’t know how the money, which they’d found on their way home, had turned up again in their sacks–and were dreading Joseph’s contention.

At that, Joseph’s steward told them to be at ease and not be afraid, saying that their God and the God of their father had provided that treasure–and Egypt had gotten their payments. This caused them relief, while preparing the gifts they’d brought, which they hoped would bring Joseph pleasure.

When Joseph returned to his house, the brothers presented their gifts and bowed to the ground before him. Then Joseph began to make request–of their own welfare, but also their father’s–if he was alive and well. When his brothers said that he was, it was news that, to Joseph, was blessed.

Then, seeing Benjamin, he asked if he was the youngest, of whom they’d spoken before; and he said, “May God be gracious to you, my son.” But Joseph hurried out and sought a place to weep in a private room of his home. It was much to take in; so, by his emotions, he was overcome.

After washing his face, Joseph regained composure and went out to join his brothers for the meal. By their ages, he’d arranged his brothers’ seating. This caused them to be amazed as they dined before Joseph, who was at his own table. But to Benjamin, five times as many portions were served at this meeting.

P. A. Oltrogge

The story of Joseph will be continued in the next post.

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