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In the last article, we'd learned that the seven year famine that Joseph had foretold Pharaoh about, through a dream interpretation a little over seven years ago -- was not only wreaking havoc upon the Egyptian kingdom, but upon the entire known world at the time: "So all countries came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain , because the famine was severe in all lands." - Genesis 41:57
And it's for this reason, we'd also learned, that Joseph's brothers were now forced into a position, of having to go to Egypt -- in order to buy grain for their very own survival.
And again, since the "seven year famine" had begun to take its toll upon the known world at that time -- Jacob and his entire household, were starting to feel the dire effects of it.
But however this may have been... because of Joseph's continued obedience to the One True God -- Egypt was now the only place in the known world, that had enough grain supply to spare.
Nonetheless, after Joseph's father Jacob had made the decision to send his sons down to Egypt -- I want to make clear, that Jacob had only sent ten of his remaining sons, to go and buy grain in Egypt. For it would be Jacob's youngest son, the one who was known as Benjamin -- who would be ordered to stay home, due to Jacob's overall concern for Benjamin's safety.
Be this as it may, Joseph's brothers would end up traveling for three to four days, before arriving at Egypt. But soon after they had arrived, they would now find themselves bowing down, in the very presence of the Egyptian Prime Minister -- who was known as "Zaphenath-Paneah the Revealer of Secrets." For they needed to buy grain for their families, and this is the only person in all the land, that had the grain supply and authority, to provide it to them.
But there was a problem, that Joseph's brothers had not yet realized, when it came to this person that was known as "Zaphenath-Paneah?" For they didn't know, that this person was in fact... Joseph -- the very brother, they had betrayed and sold into slavery some twenty years before. But in spite of this, it was because of their actions of betrayal, that Joseph had been placed completely in the hands of God.
And make no mistake, the Lord wouldn't disappoint... for He held Joseph firmly in His hands, while He took him through a thirteen year journey, that was very dark, and filled with great uncertainty. But also during this time, God would continue to mold, and prepare Joseph throughout (what seemed like) an unfortunate ordeal. Understand that God molded and crafted Joseph into a remarkable and powerful man, that his brothers no longer recognize.
Also keep in mind, that he is now 37 years of age... and again, remember that his brothers had betrayed and sold him into slavery, when he was seventeen. This means that twenty years had gone by, and although his brothers no longer recognized him -- know that Joseph immediately knew who they were when they had first approached. Understand that in Joseph's mind, his brothers had not changed... and so therefore, as far as he knew, they were the same wicked men on that day, as they were twenty years ago, when they had betrayed him.
"Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the one who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph's brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them..." -- Genesis 42:6,7
After all that Joseph had been unwilling forced through, and for him now, to be in a position of such power, especially when it came to his brothers... And you know what? to be honest... I don't think that there would have been very many of us, that the Lord would have been able to trust in this kind of situation. For the Lord would have knew, that we wouldn't had hesitated, when it came to enacting revenge, upon the very ones that had betrayed us.
And it's for this reason, that I don't blame Joseph for speaking harshly to his brothers -- for I know that some of us, if given the chance, would have done far worse. And with that being stated, I do believe that at this point from within the Sacred Record -- Joseph is now struggling with the temptation to give in to his anger. Now I'll explain this viewpoint a little bit more, shortly.
But in the mean time...
"Where do you come from?" Joseph demanded an answer from them as he spoke through his interpreter. Again, understand that Joseph did not really need an interpreter, but he knew that his brothers did not know who he was, and so therefore, he was playing his part as the Egyptian Prime Minister -- Zaphenath-Paneah that they knew him as. Nonetheless, Joseph brothers would answer his question: "From the land of Canaan, to buy food."
Now it was at this time, that Joseph had remembered the dream that he had once told to his brothers some twenty years ago. Now I'd touched a little on this in the last article, but I'll point to it again, for it's always important to note the fulfillment of biblical prophecies. For I hold true to the notion, that it's these prophecy fulfillments, that helps to show proof, that the Bible really does, has a genuine divine authority to it.
And to be clear, Joseph didn't exactly remind his brothers of the dream. I'm just posting it again, for your convenience and remembrance: "Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves (bundles) of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it. His brothers said to him, 'Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?' And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said." -- Genesis 37:6-8
So like I'd just stated earlier -- Joseph remembered his dream that he had back when he was staying amongst his brothers, and it's at this point, that Joseph begins to pour it on thick (when it came to the role that he was playing): "You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected." Joseph had accused them.
And after hearing this, Joseph's brothers responded fearfully, by saying: "No my lord! Your servants have come to buy food. We are the sons of one man. Your servants are honest men, not spies." But Joseph wouldn't let them off so easily. For he'd responded by saying: "No! You have come to see where our land is unprotected."
Needless to say, Joseph's brothers are now beginning to become very worried. And personally, I think that they should be fearful -- for they know not, the true bitter emotions of the man, that they are now facing... And because of their new found fear, Joseph's brothers tried at this point, to convince Zaphenath-Paneah that they are just ordinary men: "Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan. The youngest one is now with our father and one is no more." -- Genesis 42:13
Now even though Joseph's brothers were trying to plead for their lives. What they had revealed in their last statement, would turn out to be, what one could call "their saving grace." For one could only imagine, the countenance on Joseph's face, after he had heard, what he had just heard, when it came to his brother Benjamin? For I can imagine Joseph's countenance, changing from a look of contemplating on what (type of harm) to do to his brothers -- to him going to a look, of being somewhat relieved after they'd mentioned, that his youngest brother Benjamin was still alive and well.
I like to think, that everybody has a breaking point. A breaking point, in which one could reach an emotional critical moment, that could actually take them over the edge... and although Joseph was a man of God -- I truly believe, that a storm was truly brewing inside of him, a storm which had him actually leaning towards, enacting (perhaps fatal) revenge against his brothers.
Now most wouldn't even consider my last statement, for they tend to see this whole scenario, as if Joseph was just trying to make his brothers sweat a little bit. But I'm sorry, I can't even come close to agreeing with that notion, and here's why? Understand, that although Joseph was a God-fearing man, he was still human. And in order for us to even try, to make a natural connection with this Sacred Account... we must remember that fact.
Next, we also have to keep in mind -- that even though Joseph's brothers were indeed brothers under one man -- we must not forget, that they had four different mothers between them. I like to think, that this is very important to note -- for we must also understand, that two of the mothers (Leah and Rachel) had a fierce rivalry going on between them, when it came to bearing children for Joseph's father Jacob. And because of this intense family strife, the maidservants of both these women (Bilhah and Zilpah) would be drawn into their rivalry as well. And because of this, a fierce competition the women, began to develop even further.
Keep in mind, that between the four women -- Leah would give birth, to six of Jacob's twelve sons. And the maidservants (Bilhah and Zilpah) would give birth to four, from out of that twelve as well. Now this would leave, just two of the boys, going to Joseph and Benjamin's mother Rachel.
Now I won't fully recap, and go through everything that had happened from within this turbulent household, on this page -- but I will remind you, that Rachel had died while giving birth to her last son Benjamin. We also have to keep in mind, that from out of all his wives, that it was Rachel who Jacob truly loved. For she was the one, that Jacob had committed fourteen years of his life for. An humbling fourteen year span, that required Jacob to continuously work in a very unfair labor situation.
And I also like to think, that this was the reason why Jacob had formed a very strong bond with his son Joseph... after Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin. And now that Jacob had been deceitfully convinced by his other sons, that Joseph had been killed by a wild beast of some sort -- this would also explain the close relationship that Jacob now holds with Rachel's other son Benjamin. For Jacob's relationship with Benjamin -- is far more stronger, than the relationships, that Jacob currently has with his other ten sons.
Understand, that I hold true to the notion, that if we're able to connect naturally to the Word of God (as well as spiritually) then we'll be able, to better apply what we just learnt, a whole lot easier when it comes to our everyday lives.
Also, we'll take a brief look at Joseph's response, after he hears that Benjamin is still alive. And we'll also explore the notion -- that it's very well possible, that Joseph also believed, that Benjamin had been wronged, or slayed... by the hands of the very same men, that had betrayed, and thought about slaying him, some twenty years before.
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