A Daily Genesis

Genesis 43:15-29

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[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 43:15-18a . . So the men took that gift, and they took with them double the money; as well as Benjamin. They made their way down to Egypt, where they reported to Joseph.

. . .When Joseph saw Benjamin with them; he said to his house steward: Take the men into the house; slaughter and prepare an animal, for the men will dine with me at noon. The man did as Joseph said, and he brought the men into Joseph's house.[/B]

It's highly unlikely Joseph recognized Benjamin since he was just a little boy when big brother went off to Egypt. At this point, Benjamin is much older-- over 21 --and likely much older than that since, at this point, Joseph had already been in Egypt for at least that long. Later, Joseph will interrogate his elder brothers to make sure they actually brought him.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 43:18b . . But the men were frightened at being brought into Joseph's house.[/B]

They had good reason to be frightened. It was common for Egyptian big shots to have dungeons under their homes where they kept their own private little penal colony.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 43:18c . . It must be, they thought; because of the silver, replaced in our bags the first time, that we have been brought inside-- as a pretext to attack us and seize us as slaves, with our pack animals.[/B]

That's actually a pretty good mob trick; it's in movies like Godfather, and in TV programs like The Sopranos all the time. The mark is thrown off guard with courtesy, forgiveness, kindness, sympathy, generosity, and friendship; until the moment of truth when the guns, knives, garrotes, anchor chains, and/or bags of concrete come out. The men are justifiably worried; and so rather than wait and be confronted about the silver, they come forward to cop a plea.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 43:19-22 . . So they went up to Joseph's house steward and spoke to him at the entrance of the house.

. . . If you please, my lord, they said; we came down once before to procure food. But when we arrived at the night encampment and opened our bags, there was each one's money in the mouth of his bag, our money in full. So we have brought it back with us. And we have brought down with us other money to procure food. We do not know who put the money in our bags.[/B]

No true thief of course would go to all the trouble of actually bringing the silver back; sort of like people who are given too much change from a purchase and keep it; saying nothing.
[COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 43:23a . . He replied: All is well with you; do not be afraid. Your god, the god of your father, must have put treasure in your bags for you. I got your payment.[/B]

In the steward's thinking; which god is the god of your father? If he had used the name Yhvh it would be easier to answer that question. But in light of the times and the circumstances, it isn't unreasonable to assume that the steward had no idea who their own personal god was, nor did he care; since gods were plentiful in Egypt and the brothers would probably be like everybody else and simply worship the one they inherited and grew up with at home: whichever that might be.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 43:23b-25 . . And he brought out Simeon to them. Then the man brought the men into Joseph's house; he gave them water to bathe their feet, and he provided feed for their burros. They laid out their gifts to await Joseph's arrival at noon, for they had heard that they were to dine there.[/B]

In the brothers' minds; all the leniency and courtesy being extended to them was little more than a pretext designed to accomplish just one purpose: to give them a false sense of security so they wouldn't suspect the real purpose for being brought to Joseph's home; which they truly believed was to confiscate their goods and their livestock, and to harness themselves in slavery.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 43:26-28 . .When Joseph came home, they presented to him the gifts that they had brought with them into the house, bowing low before him to the ground. He greeted them, and he said: How is your aged father of whom you spoke? Is he still in good health? They replied: It is well with your servant our father; he is still in good health. And they bowed and made obeisance.[/B]

The Hebrew word for "obeisance" is [I]shachah[/I] (shaw-khaw') which means to prostrate oneself in homage. That very same word is translated "worship" in other places. (e.g. Gen 22:5, Gen 24:26, Ex 34:14)

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†. [/COLOR]Gen 43:29a . . As he looked about and saw his brother Benjamin, his own mother's son, he asked: Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about?[/B]

No doubt Joseph could tell by the looks on everybody's faces that it was indeed Benjamin so he didn't have to wait for an answer before responding.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 43:29b . . May God be gracious to you, my son.[/B]

To be "gracious" is the Hebrew word [I]chanan[/I] (khaw-nan') which means to stoop or bend in kindness to an inferior; viz: fraternize with someone below you; viz: waive the privileges of rank and descend to a less formal or less dignified level-- a mandated Christian social skill.

"Don't be conceited, and think so highly of yourself as to avoid associating with people below you." (Rom 12:16)

Somebody might be curious why Joseph called Benjamin "son" instead of brother. The Hebrew word for son ([I]ben[/I]) is ambiguous and has a pretty wide application. It can mean not only a direct descendant, but also a grandson; or the result of an action like city building or township founding. It can also mean a subject, like citizens in a kingdom.

It was no doubt in the "subject" aspect that Joseph applied it to his kid brother-- not as kin, but as below himself in rank because in Egypt, nobody was higher than Joseph except his own boss Pharaoh; which made Pharaoh a father to everyone under his jurisdiction; including Joseph. And besides, Joseph is not quite ready to reveal his true identity; so he has to maintain an air of aristocracy in order to keep them guessing.

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