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In the last article we'd learned, that Jacob's sons had finally returned home from buying grain down in Egypt. But this food supply trip, wouldn't turn out to be as simple as it should have been. For Jacob's sons, would end up running into Joseph -- the brother that they had betrayed, and sold into slavery some twenty years before.
But a lot had happen to Joseph since the last time they had saw him.
For he wasn't that annoying seventeen year old boy, that they'd envied and hated anymore.
For Joseph is now thirty-seven years old, and he has grown into a very wise and powerful man.
Also understand, that the person that they once knew as Joseph -- he would be no more. For this was a man who had traveled a very difficult life journey -- a journey that would take him a little over twenty years to complete. And it was because of this life journey, that Joseph would be transformed into something that his brothers would not be able to recognize.
But make no mistake, Joseph knew who they were. And as he stood before his brothers, he now stood as a man, who had become the second most powerful person in the entire land of Egypt. For Joseph now holds the title and position, of being "Zaphenath-Paneah the Revealer of Secrets" the Egyptian Prime Minister.
Now as Joseph continues to struggle with the temptation of possibly seeking revenge against his brothers (the men who had betrayed him some twenty years before) it's revealed to him, that his younger brother Benjamin (who didn't travel to Egypt with his brothers) was still alive and well.
Understand that this little bit of information, would turn out to be very valuable for Joseph's brothers -- for it would be information, that would give Joseph pause, when it came to the tremendous anger that he had towards them.
Now the reason why I believe this information would have this type of affect on Joseph -- deals with the fact, that after Joseph had learned that Benjamin was still alive and well, this would give him a very good reason, to keep from severely punishing his brothers (regardless of how he felt about them) at least for awhile longer.
And when one judges Joseph's immediate response (when it came to this
information) one could easily pick up, that he might have thought that
Benjamin had suffered the same fate, that he himself had suffered, some
twenty years before. But now after ease dropping on his brothers
conversation amongst themselves, Joseph learns that this wasn't the case
after all. And needless-to-say, this would bring an unexpected joy to
And of course, after he had heard that the brother he'd loved dearly was still alive, Joseph wanted him to be brought immediately to Egypt. And because of this, Joseph allowed nine of his ten brothers (he would keep Simeon imprisoned) to return home, so they could bring Benjamin to Egypt. But there will be one major, unforeseen obstacle when it came to Joseph's plans, and it dealt with his father Jacob.
Now as we move forward...
After Joseph's brothers had returned home, the Sacred Record points out, that they'd told their father, all that had happened to them while they were down in Egypt. However... Jacob would not be happy with what he had just heard. In fact, he was very angry, and had became fearful once he had also learnt -- that although his sons had brought back the grain he had sent them to buy... they still had within their bags, the money in which they were to purchase the grain with:
"As they were emptying their sacks, there in each man's sack was his pouch of sliver! When they and their father saw the money pouches, they were frightened." -- Genesis 42:35
And because of this, Jacob didn't know if his sons had stolen the grain. And it would be at this moment, Jacob finally loses his composure, and tells his sons his true feelings about the overall situation: "You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more; and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!" -- Genesis 42:36
Now after hearing this, Jacob's oldest son Reuben would try to reassure his father (when it came to Benjamin) by offering up his own two sons: "You my put both of my sons to death if I do not bring Benjamin back to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back." -- Genesis 42:37
But Jacob would have none of that: "My son will not go down there with you; his brother Joseph is dead; and he is the only one left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in sorrow." -- Genesis 42:38
And it would be this particular response from Jacob -- that would bring an end to that discussion for the moment. And so therefore, Jacob did not send his sons back down to Egypt... and they'd stayed in the land of Canaan -- while Joseph kept Simeon imprisoned down in Egypt.
Now sometime would pass, and Jacob's household had ran out of the grain that his sons had brought back from Egypt. Now keep in mind, that the "famine of seven years" was still very severe at this time, and it was still causing havoc throughout the known world. And of course, this would turn out to be very unfortunate for Jacob's household, and if they were going to continue to survive the "famine of seven years" -- they would have to go back down into Egypt... to buy more grain.
Understand that this puts Jacob in a very tough situation, being that he now has to send his sons back to Egypt (something he was trying to avoid) but he still refuses to let Benjamin go back with them. But his son Judah would quickly remind their father, that they can't go back to Egypt without Benjamin: "The man warned us solemnly: 'You will not see my face again unless your brother Benjamin is with you.'" -- Genesis 43:3
Now after hearing what Judah had to say, Jacob responds by saying: "Why did you bring this trouble on me by telling the man you had a brother?" Jacob sons answered their father by saying: "The man questioned us closely about ourselves and our family: 'Is your father still living?" he asked us. 'Do you have another brother?' We simply answered his questions. How were we to know that he would say: 'Bring your brother down here'?" -- Genesis 43:6,7
Then Judah would put forth his own condition (along with some very good sound reasoning) when it came to Benjamin and their overall situation: "Send the boy along with me and we will go at once, so that we and you and our children may live and not die. I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life. As it is, if we had not delayed, we could have gone and returned twice." -- Genesis 43:8-10
Understand, that what Judah had said to his father was very sound in reason and wisdom. And obviously, this created somewhat of a "reality check" for Jacob: "Send the boy along with me and we will go at once, so that we and you and our children may live and not die." Know that with this statement alone, Judah had reminded his father, that there was more at stake than just Benjamin's safety.
For it would seem, that Jacob had made the mistake of placing his hope and faith, when it came to the future of his household, squarely on Benjamin shoulders. Remember that this was the same mistake, that his father Isaac had made before him, when he tried to do the same thing with Jacob's brother Esau.
Understand, that Jacob had become so focused on not letting his late wife Rachel down, that he was determined to make sure that her children, would play very important roles when it came to the future of Israel. Little did he know, Joseph and Benjamin would indeed, eventually play very important roles when it came to the future of Israel. But what Jacob failed to realize, is that Joseph was doing his part at that very moment. Jacob also failed to see, that it would eventually be God Almighty -- that would decide when, and if those important roles for Joseph and Benjamin will happen... not Jacob.
However, in the meantime -- it would be Jacob's job, to be a good steward over everything that God had given him, and that included all of his children, and not just a selected few. Judah had reminded his father of this responsibility, and because of this, Jacob couldn't honestly say, or think -- that his other children didn't hold some type of value, or purpose, when it came to the future of Israel as well?
Reuben... Simeon... Levi... Judah... Dan... Naphtali... Gad... Asher... Issachar... Zebulun... even his daughter Dinah...
Could Jacob honestly say that they had no value? Not Hardly... for they will all play some kind of important role, when it comes to the future of the great nation, that will eventually be known as Israel.
Understand that all of Jacob's kids, and their own households, all held some type of purpose and value -- and shame on Jacob for thinking otherwise. But Jacob would not be alone when it comes to these types of mental traps and snares? For we also tend to make the same mistakes, when we place certain people, or the things that we think are valuable to us, ahead of everything else as well. Therefore severely limiting our potential, when it comes to reaping the good harvest that God has laid out for us, to just a few things, or a selected few.
You know, often times we fail to realize that everything that God brings into our lives, holds some type of value, and purpose. This is why we must remember, it's crucial that we keep our eyes on the Lord at all times, and not the world. And by learning how to make a good practice, when it comes to this approach, I believe will help, to keep us from falling into the worldly mental traps and snares -- that are designed to limit God to the inner-workings of our "finite minds" and "natural narrow perceptions."
This is why we must also learn from Jacob's mistake, by not following down the same path, when it comes to what we think is of importance and value. And although Jacob did not like what he had heard from his sons -- he knew Judah had put forth a good point:
"If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them to the man as a gift -- a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds. Take double the amount of sliver with you, for you must return the silver that was put back in the mouths of your sacks.
"Perhaps it was a mistake? Take your brother also and go back to the man at once. And may God almighty grant you mercy before the man so that he will let your brother Simeon and Benjamin come back with you. As for me, if I am bereaved, I am bereaved." -- Genesis 43:11-14
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