Genesis – Chapter 42: Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt

Genesis Chapter 41 brought us the story of Joseph coming into power in Egypt through a series of manipulative steps and what clearly points to punishment of the poor.  Chapter 42 brings back Joseph’s brothers, the very brothers who made him a prisoner.

“So Israel’s sons were among those who went to buy grain, for there was famine in the land of Canaan also.” – Genesis 42:5

I point to this verse because it serves as a reminder that Joseph took 1/5 of the harvest each year to prepare for the coming years of famine.  The problem is that the harvest TAKEN was not given away for free when needed.  When famine arrived, the people of the land had the BUY the harvest that was TAKEN from them.  Joseph, savior to the rich!  Joseph’s brothers reach Egypt and meet Joseph.

“Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him.” – Genesis 42:8

Um…why not?  There’s nothing in the Bible saying that Joseph’s appearance has changed.  Joseph recognizes his brothers, but why do they not recognize him?  This makes no sense.

“It is just as I told you: You are spies!  And this is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here.” – Genesis 42:14-15

Joseph returns the favor by holding his brother’s hostage.  Not the right thing to do, but it’s hard to place much blame on Joseph given what his brothers did to him.  Now would be a good time for God to step in and provide true moral instructions.  But where is God?  Nowhere to be seen.

“On the third day, Joseph said to them, ‘Do this and you will live, for I fear God:’” – Genesis 42:18

This further pushes the theme that all good men FEAR God.  Since when is fear needed to be good?  As a parent, I’d be committing child abuse if I taught my potentially future kids to fear me.  What kind of person pushes fear into someone else?  God does, and that tells you what kind of ‘being’ He is.

“Reuben replied, ‘didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.’ They did not realize that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter.” – Genesis 42:22-23

Hold on a second.  Joseph needs an interpreter to understand his brothers?  They grew up together and spoke the same language.  Did ALL of Joseph’s brothers learn a new language while Joseph was in Egypt?  Doubtful.  This makes no sense.

“At the place where they stopped for the night one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey, and he saw his silver in the mouth of his sack. ‘My silver has been returned,’ he said to his brothers. ‘Here it is in my sack.’ Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, “What is this that God has done to us?” – Genesis 42:27-28

Um…God didn’t do this.  Joseph did.  Joseph is the one who put the silver in the sack.  Leading to this, YOU were the ones who imprisoned Joseph.  God didn’t do that, although knowing God, it sounds right up his alley.  But let’s not blame God for something He has been absent in.

The brothers return home to Jacob and tell their story.  Jacob is upset, justifiably.  That ends Chapter 42.  Several verses that are odd and make no sense, but hey, that’s the Bible for you!  Obviously this story continues, so you’ll just have to wait until next time to see what happens!

Coming Soon:  Genesis – Chapter 43:  The Second Journey to Egypt

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