Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jul 28 2011 - E100.13 – Gen 42:1-38, Jacob sends for grain from Egypt

The famine affected not only Egypt but the whole of the surrounding region, including the land of Canaan. When Jacob learnt that there was grain to be bought in Egypt he sent ten of his sons to buy provisions, keeping only Benjamin back, the remaining son of his beloved Rachel.

Joseph is overseeing the sale of grain at the place to which the brothers are directed – perhaps it is the one place where foreigners are allowed to buy food. His ten brothers bow down to him, just as had been revealed to Joseph some 20 years previously. Joseph recognises his brothers but, unsurprisingly, they do not recognise this high official of Egypt.

Joseph decides to give his brothers a hard time. Accusing them of being spies, he demands that one of them, Simeon, be kept in custody in Egypt while the other nine return with the food. Simeon will only be released when they come back with their youngest brother – proof that their account of themselves is true.

This harsh treatment causes the brothers to recall the way they had treated their brother Joseph. They had failed to listen to his pleas to be released from the pit where they had thrown him. They had sold him into slavery and now one of them is bound and imprisoned in Egypt. Reuben, who had wanted to rescue Joseph, tells them that they are now being punished for their wrongdoing.

So the nine leave Egypt to return to their father. They return with bags full of grain but, unbeknown to them, they return also with their money hidden in their sacks. Outwardly, Joseph may be treating his brothers harshly, but in reality he is full of compassion towards them and wishes to bless them. Grace triumphs over judgment – even though all Jacob can see is the prospect of loss.

Holy God, I recognise the many ways in which I have sinned against you and am deserving of your judgment. Thank you that you are a God who is abundant in mercy and love. Thank you that because of Jesus you do not treat me as my sins deserve; you have opened to me the storehouses of your grace and have invited me to eat without cost.

Peter Misselbrook