Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jul 30 2011 - E100.14b – Gen 43:16-34, A feast for brothers

Joseph is filled with joy when he sees his brother Benjamin – though he continues to act the part of the stern Egyptian official. He commands his servants to kill the fatted calf and prepare a feast; these ten brothers, along with Simeon, released from imprisonment, are to eat with him today.

When the brothers are brought to Joseph's house they are full of fear. Can you imagine how they must have felt. They are tent dwellers from Canaan; now they are brought to a grand house of a high Egyptian official. Surely it must be a trap? They are reluctant to enter and so begin a self-justifying conversation with the steward at the door. They explain how, after their first visit, they discovered their money returned to them in their sacks of grain and how they have brought it back along with money for more grain. But the steward, no doubt briefed by Joseph, tells them not to be concerned. The money for their grain was duly received and accounted for; it must have been their God and the God of their father who put the money in their sacks. The God of Jacob had indeed been watching over them through Joseph who had returned their money at his own expense.

The brothers are treated with every kindness; Simeon is brought out to join them, they are provided with water for a wash and their donkeys are fed and watered.

At last Joseph comes home and the eleven brothers are brought into the house to meet him. Here they present their gifts to him and bow down before him, but Joseph is more concerned to find out about the health of their father. Then, as he begins to talk to Benjamin and to bless him, he can no longer maintain the mask of the stern Egyptian and has to leave the room to find a place where his emotions can be freely expressed. Before long he is back and in control of the situation. The feast is set with the eleven brothers at one table, arranged from oldest to youngest. Joseph is seated at a high table separate from them all. The brothers' food is taken to them from Joseph's table with Benjamin receiving five times as much as any of the others. Now they begin to relax and enjoy the feast and even become merry with the fine wine.

The story is full of tensions reflecting the divided heart of Joseph. There is a part of him that is still intent on teaching his brothers a lesson for having mistreated him; but Joseph also loves his brothers, particularly young Benjamin, and wants to share the riches of his house with them.

Father God, thank you that there is no divided heart with you. You have shown the greatness of your love for us in the Lord Jesus Christ. Despite our wrongdoing you have embraced us and welcomed us into your house that we may feast with you. Because Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers, we are not kept at arm's length; we feast with him at your right hand and are filled with joy in your presence.

Peter Misselbrook