Monday, March 13, 2017

Brothers Reconciled- Part Three

After eating with the Egyptian governor, the brothers went to the storehouses to buy grain. And in the morning, as soon as the sun had begun to peek over the horizon, the men left with their bags of grain and their donkeys. When they were only a short distance from the city, they were overtaken by the Egyptian man's steward. The steward said, "Why have you repaid evil for good? Why have you taken my lord's cup? Is it not with this cup that he practices divination? You have done evil!"
Naphtali said, "Why do you say such things? Far be it from us to do such a thing! Behold, we brought back the money that we found in our sacks. How could we steal silver or gold from your master's house? Whichever of your servants is found with the cup, he shall die, and rest of us shall be servants!"
The steward said, "It will be as you say; the one found with the cup will be my servant, and the rest of you shall be innocent."
The Hebrews got off their donkeys, took down their sacks and let the steward search them one at a time. First, he searched Reuben's sack and found nothing. Then he searched Simeon's and found nothing. One by one the bags were searched, and nothing was found but grain. The brothers looked at each other and laughed lightly. "See?" Reuben said. "We are innocent!"
Then the steward opened Benjamin's sack. And there, in the mouth of the sack was the silver cup.
The brothers cried out in shock and tore their clothes. Then they lifted their sacks back onto their donkeys and returned to the city. They arrived at the governor's home and discovered that he was still there. They fell onto the ground before him. The governor, through his interpreter, said, "What is this that you have done? Do you not know that I can practice divination?"
Judah replied, "What shall we say to you, my lord? How can we clear ourselves? God has found out the guilt of your servants, behold, we are my lord's servants, both we and he also in whose hand the cup was found."
The governor said, "No, far be it from me that I keep all of you! Let only the man in whose hand the cup was found be my servant. But as for the rest of you, go home to your father in peace."
Then Judah stepped away from the group and approached the man. "Oh my lord, please hear me, and do not be angry with me, for you are like Pharaoh himself. You asked us, 'Do you have a father or brother?' And we said to you, my lord, 'We have a father, who is old, and a young brother whom he loves. His brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother's children.' Then you said, 'Bring him down to me.' We said, 'The boy cannot leave his father, for his father would die.' Then you said to your servants, 'Unless your youngest brother comes with you, you will not see my face.' When we went back to our father, we told him what you had said. And when he said, 'Go buy us some food,' we said, 'We cannot go down unless our youngest brother comes with us.' Then our father said, 'One of my sons is gone, and you would take the other one as well? If you take him, surely I will die!' Now, if I return to my father without the boy, my father will die! For I am a pledge of safety for the boy to my father, saying, 'If I do not bring him back, let me bear the blame.'  Now, therefore, let me remain instead of the boy and let the boy go back to his father. For how can I go back without the boy?"
Then the governor shouted, "Everyone leave me!" All the Egyptian advisors, guards, stewards, and interpreters left the room. And the governor began to weep. He wept loudly and cried, "I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?"
The brothers stood in shocked silence. This Egyptian man was talking in Hebrew to them! Then a flood of memories returned to them.
Asher remembered the dreams that Joseph had told them of and realized that they had fulfilled the dreams by bowing down to him.
Zebulun remembered the coat of many colors that their father had given Joseph and how jealous he had been that he had not received a special gift.
Levi remembered seeing Joseph coming from afar and plotting to kidnap the boy.
Reuben remembered sticking up for his brother-halfway. He had told his brothers not to kill the boy, intending to rescue him later, but never doing so.
Dan and Naphtali remembered jumping on the lad and ripping off his coat.
Simeon remembered throwing him into the pit.
Issachar remembered ignoring the pleas of his brother for mercy.
Judah remembered suggesting selling the boy to the Ishmaelite traders and dipping his coat in blood to cover up their deed.
Benjamin remembered the sadness of his father when the others had returned with the coat. And he remembered how he suddenly became the favorite son.
And all the men felt a wave of guilt. Then they all felt fear-incredible fear. Here was Joseph, the "dreamer," who now stood before them in a position of power. He had every right to kill them. And the brothers were afraid.
Then the man said, "Come near to me, please." And all the brothers stepped forward cautiously.
Then the governor- or Joseph, I should say- spoke the comforting words that the brothers needed to hear. "I am Joseph, whom who sold into Egypt. Do not be dismayed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land for two years, and there are yet five years where no one will plow or harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve a remnant for you on the earth and to keep many people alive. It was not you who sent me here, but Elohim. He has made me like a father to Pharaoh, and ruler of his household, and ruler over all of Egypt. Now, hurry and go to my father and say, 'Thus says your son Joseph: God has made me ruler of all Egypt. Come down to me, do not tarry! You shall dwell in Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children, and their children, and your flocks and herds, and all that you have. I will provide for you, for there are five years of famine still coming, so that you and your house do not fall into poverty.' And now, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth that speaks to you. You must tell my father of my honor in Egypt, and of everything that you have seen. Then you must bring my father down to me."
Then the brothers watched as Joseph embraced Benjamin and kissed him and wept. After that, the men were surprised to see him do the same to the rest of them.
The brothers talked for a long time. There was so much to catch up on in thirteen years. All Joseph's brothers had families of their own, and Joseph couldn't wait to be introduced. The brothers met Joseph's wife, Asenath, and their two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
After discussing things with Pharaoh himself, Joseph gave his brothers wagons and provisions. He gave them new clothes, but, not surprisingly, he gave Benjamin the most. He sent a gift to his father, and provisions for the way back to Egypt.
And just before the brothers left, Joseph gave them a single warning: "Do not quarrel along the way."
The brothers traveled back to Canaan and their father. Then Judah said, "Joseph is still alive, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt." But their father did not believe him.
Then, piece by piece, the brothers relayed Joseph's message, and he became excited. "It is enough, my son is alive. I will go and see him before I die," he said.

(Based on Genesis 44-45)

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