Meditation: Genesis 42

Reading: Genesis 42:1-23 and 29.

We saw previously that the church (Jacob’s family) is threatened. Enemies threaten them from the outside. Internally the church is filled with hatred, division and deception. The very existence of the church is in danger. Jacob does not act, therefore God must intervene. He remains faithful to His covenant promises. God first sends Joseph to Egypt. This is followed with seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. The famine drives the brothers, minus Benjamin, to Egypt where they face Joseph, but they do not realise he is their brother.


In this way God brings the brothers together in order to restore unity. But first there must be genuine admission of guilt and confession of sins to each other.  Joseph understands this, and begins by testing them. He accuses them of spying. When the brothers deny it they mention that the youngest brother (Benjamin) is back home. Joseph commands them to fetch him, while he holds Simeon till they return. The brothers know this demand will be opposed by Jacob. They feel distress has come over them because their guilt for selling Joseph (vs 21). God pierces their minds with secret fear, and forces them to confess their sins. In doing so God has compassion by uncovering the sins which they had been hiding for a long time. This is a good beginning, but a lot more wrong needs to put right.


When they arrive home father Jacob refuses to release Benjamin. Reuben steps forward and offers his two sons as surety for Benjamin’s safety. This is also a sign that things are improving. However, Jacob does not agree and tension remains.


Key text: Genesis 42:21 “Then they said to one another, ‘We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us.’ ”


Question: Was it wise of Joseph not to reveal who he was to his brothers and ask for Benjamin to be brought? Why?