The Life of Joseph - Lesson 24, Continuing the Life of Joseph in Egypt.
Genesis 42:29-38, And they came unto Jacob their father unto the land of Canaan, and told him all that befell unto them; saying, The man, who is the lord of the land, spake roughly to us, and took us for spies of the country. And we said unto him, We are true men; we are no spies: We be twelve brethren, sons of our father; one is not, and the youngest is this day with our father in the land of Canaan. And the man, the lord of the country, said unto us, Hereby shall I know that ye are true men; leave one of your brethren here with me, and take food for the famine of your households, and be gone: And bring your youngest brother unto me: then shall I know that ye are no spies, but that ye are true men: so will I deliver you your brother, and ye shall traffic in the land. And it came to pass as they emptied their sacks, that, behold, every man's bundle of money was in his sack: and when both they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid. And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me. And Reuben spake unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee: deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again. And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.
Knowing his sons, Jacob is troubled by their account.
Knowing his sons he feared that they were the cause of these troubles.
They had provoked the Egyptian to this extreme action!
Why were there bundles of money in the sacks?
Had they stolen the grain and kept the money while concocting this fanciful story?
How could he believe these stories?
Jacob plainly distrusted his sons.
Hadn't Joseph been with them when he disappeared?
Now Simeon was gone while he was with them.
Their reputation was such that Jacob could not trust them.
They had let him down so many times.
Here is Jacob the patriarch, the one who wrestled with God, blind to the working hand of his Lord.
Saying: all these things are against me. when in fact all these things were for him.
Jacob! All things work together for good to them who love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Jacob, all things are working out for your greater blessing and for you and your families preservation.
And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me. And Reuben spake unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee: deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again. And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.
For 22 years Jacob had been bereaved because of Joseph.
Jacob uses the word bereave here which is an extremely strong word for the loss of a child.
It is the same word that describes an miscarry, or to suffer an abortion of a child during its formation in the womb.
It describes being robbed of children.
It indicates extreme pain of suffering.
Me have ye bereaved of my children:
Joseph was with you when he was lost and now you've lost Simeon.
There is nothing that will cause me to let Benjamin go with you!
What did this accusation mean to the brothers.
How much did their father actually know or how much did he suspect?
What did Jacob mean when he said that they were the cause of Joseph and Simeon being gone?
This may have simply been an emotional conclusion on Jacob's part, a conclusion that these boys were bad luck.
But with their consciences so sensitive it must have been another heavy weight on the hearts of the brothers as they wondered if Jacob knew the truth.
So Reuben in his impetuous way challenges Jacob with a boastful challenge.
This is the eldest son that Jacob will pronounce in Genesis 49:3,4, as being unstable as water:
Genesis 49:3,4, Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father's bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch.
So Reuben exclaims: Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee: deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again.
This is the proposed solution to this impasse.
Kill your own grandsons if I do not bring Benjamin back to you.
Put me in the same state of mind as you are by the loss of your two sons.
Make me as miserable as you are!
What was in Reuben's mind thinking that the murder of Jacob's grandsons would compensate for the loss of two sons?
Coming from Reuben this was such great comfort to Jacob, don't you think?
I can see Jacob's withering look at Reuben as he heard this boast for the one son who defiled his bed.
And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he (Benjamin) is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.
I have lost my beloved first son of Rachel.
I cannot bear the thought of living without Benjamin, her remaining son.
Jacob was 130 years old at this time.
He had long ago heard the prophesy of Abraham in Genesis 15:13, that his seed would be a stranger in a land that is not theirs.
No doubt he remembered that they would serve them in that land and that they would be afflicted for four hundred years.
This was the will of God for Abraham's seed and wasn't Jacob and Joseph and Reuben and Simeon, Abraham's seed?
But there was a disconnect between Jacob and the will of God.
Jacob was interested in daily living and eating and drinking and family living but he was insensitive to the working of God in his life.
How normal this is to the natural man in us.
Too busy ourselves in the cares of this life that we neglect the will of God, insensitive to the working of God around us.
What about that neighbor or friend or stranger that we can influence for God but instead just engage the natural man in us to his or her need?
How important we think of those things that are mundane.
The neighbor or friend or stranger needs the spiritual man in us that his or her eternity be affected.
But too many times like Jacob we lock up the spiritual man and let free the natural man to do the things that will soon pass away!
Genesis 43:1-5, And the famine was sore in the land. And it came to pass, when they had eaten up the corn which they had brought out of Egypt, their father said unto them, Go again, buy us a little food. And Judah spake unto him, saying, The man did solemnly protest unto us, saying, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you. If thou wilt send our brother with us, we will go down and buy thee food: But if thou wilt not send him, we will not go down: for the man said unto us, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you.
Joseph's plan for the repentance of his brothers and reconciliation of his family in Egypt is taking a predicted course.
The brother's had come to Egypt in the second year of the famine.
There were five more years of famine according to God's plan.
Joseph knew this but his brothers did not know this.
For all they knew the grasses and the grains would return with the former and the latter rains and but for Simeon they would not have to return to Egypt.
But this continuing famine guaranteed that his brothers would return even if he had not imprisoned Simeon.
The famine is sore in the land and the cupboards and the bins are fast becoming bare.
This word sore means grievous, severe, difficult, hard, heavy.
But man's extremity is God's opportunity!
Jacob allowed his extremity to be even more extreme but this simply allowed God to have more opportunity!
So because of the famine ordained by God Jacob naturally commands that his sons go again "to buy us a little food."
But wrapped up in this command is a decision that he must make regarding Benjamin.
He will again display a favoritism toward this second son of Rachel.
Joseph is putting into place a scenario whereby his brothers will face the test of jealousy.
They failed the test when it came to Joseph; how will they fare this time 22 years later?
We will see how Joseph continues this test later in this story.
And the brothers play into this plan fervently because they have felt the authority of the Egyptian prince firsthand.
If thou wilt send our brother with us, we will go down and buy thee food: But if thou wilt not send him, we will not go down: for the man said unto us, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you.
They fully expected to be executed if they came down to Egypt empty handed and were not about to go to Egypt in disobedience.
Father, it is of no use to go unless we go in obedience to the command of the Egyptian prince.