A Daily Genesis

Genesis 42:15-24a

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[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†. [/COLOR]Gen 42:15-17 . . By this you shall be put to the test: unless your youngest brother comes here, by Pharaoh, you shall not depart from this place! Let one of you go and bring your brother, while the rest of you remain confined, that your words may be put to the test whether there is truth in you. Else, by Pharaoh, you are nothing but spies! And he confined them in the guardhouse for three days.[/B]

During those three days the brothers must have felt like they were in a purgatory as they endured unbearable anxiety while conferring amongst themselves about their current state of affairs. They were no doubt positive that Jacob would never allow his favorite little boy to be taken down to Egypt where this obtuse Egyptian big shot just might lock him up with the others so that in the end, all surviving eleven of Jacob's sons would never be seen again.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 42:18-20a . . On the third day Joseph said to them: Do this and you shall live, for I am a God-fearing man. If you are honest men, let one of your brothers be held in your place of detention, while the rest of you go and take home rations for your starving households; but you must bring me your youngest brother, that your words may be verified and that you may not die.[/B]

This reversal of terms couldn't have done anything other than to reinforce the brothers' fears that not only was this Egyptian big shot obtuse, but also unpredictable.

Turning loose nine of the ten men would be dumb because, militarily, sacrificing one to save nine is an acceptable loss. Joseph's excuse for this obvious military blunder is that he's a "God-fearing" man; viz: just in case their story is true, he didn't want to be responsible for the starvation of innocent families.

Joseph had the advantage of knowing far more about their family than they dreamed. As it turned out, Jacob would have gladly sacrificed the brother who will be chosen to remain behind in order to protect Benjamin, except that to not return, meant certain starvation; and no doubt Joseph easily foresaw Jacob's dilemma in that matter. He really had them in a catch-22.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 42:20b . . And they did accordingly.[/B]

The men agreed to Joseph's terms, but not without going around the room about it first. These guys are dumber than a stack of bricks. They discussed their current predicament, and their consciences, all within Joseph's hearing. (Never assume foreigners don't know your language just because they aren't speaking it.)

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 42:21-23 . .They said to one another: Alas, we are being punished on account of our brother, because we looked on at his anguish, yet paid no heed as he pleaded with us. That is why this distress has come upon us. Then Reuben spoke up and said to them: Did I not tell you, do no wrong to the boy? But you paid no heed. Now comes the reckoning for his blood. They did not know that Joseph understood, for there was an interpreter between him and them.[/B]

Apparently the interpreter had been either dismissed and/or sent on an errand and left Joseph guarding the men by himself while they deliberated amongst themselves.

Isn't it interesting that those men carried the guilt of their treatment of Joseph all those 21 years that he was away from home? This probably wasn't the first time they blamed their bad luck on Joseph. Probably every time one of them hit his thumb with a hammer, or bumped his head on a shelf, he thought of Joseph.

Those men's minds hadn't enjoyed a moments peace since the day the slave traders carted their kid brother off to the big unknown in Egypt. At night, when the demons come, their minds would once and again, for the Nth time, rehearse his awful wailing and begging down in that hole, and see the pain on his face, a pain that was burned into their memories like a rancher's cattle brand. No doubt those poor guys all suffered from recurring nightmares about the incident too.

All those 21 years, Jacob hadn't stopped grieving for Joseph; so that every morning, those guys were treated to the sight of their father all blue and depressed at the loss of his favorite boy. Those poor guys. It was impossible to forget Joseph with their dad moping around all the time in a sorrowful state to remind them.
[COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 42:24a . . He turned away from them and wept.[/B]

Genesis offers no explanation whatsoever for Joseph's weeping; and I half suspect it's because unless somebody has actually themselves lived through an experience similar to his, then there is just no way even the brightest of Bible students can fully relate to what Joseph was feeling at that moment no matter how skillfully the best writers on earth tried to explain it. His weeping wasn't a matter of the mind; no, it was a matter of the heart; and oftentimes those kinds of matters can't be put into words by the very people themselves who are awash with those kinds of emotions.

Joseph certainly had no good reason to feel any particular bonding with his brothers. If anything, he should be feeling totally disconnected from them. They were never his friends, and not once did anything good by him; the rather, he was disowned in his own home by the very people who by all rights should have loved and supported him the most.

Although Joseph grew up with big brothers, he didn't, if you know what I mean. His only trusty companions at home were his dad Jacob, and his kid brother Benjamin; and it seems clear to me that it's for their sakes alone that he's tolerating these ten felons for even another minute. It must have taken a Herculean effort on Joseph's part to restrain his natural impulses to order their bodies immediately gibbeted and set out for the vultures.

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