Life of Joseph – Part 32 – A Chance to Run

Today we watch Joseph make his final moves in this chess game he’s been playing with his brothers.

And in this passage I think I see a couple of Joseph’s goals in the game. These are just my thoughts.

(1) I think he wanted to see if the brothers would take their grain and run back home when Benjamin got caught with the silver cup. It was the perfect opportunity for them to ditch him in Egypt and go back home with a great excuse of why he wasn’t with them. Of course, Judah would have had to pay the price since he was the one who told Dad he would be responsible for bringing Benjamin back. But, hey! At least they would be back home, with grain so they wouldn’t starve, and they would be minus one more spoiled half-brother.

But they didn’t do that. In fact, they came across like they really cared about Benjamin. They didn’t let him go back to Joseph’s house to face the music alone. They all went back with him. In fact, their plan was to all go back to Joseph’s as slaves.

(2) In order to be sure Benjamin was safe from the half-brothers, Joseph maneuvered the situation so that Benjamin was ‘guilty’ of stealing from Joseph and would have to stay in Egypt.

But again, the brothers come through. If Benjamin stays, they’re all staying. And when Judah shares his story with Joseph and talks about their father and how he thinks Joseph was torn to pieces and how much pain losing Benjamin would cause him, I think Joseph is convinced Judah really does care about their father. Especially when he offers to take Benjamin’s place as a slave in Egypt so that their father doesn’t have to grieve another son.


Truths I See:

– Our real character is revealed when we’re given an opportunity to bail out of a bad situation. Sticking around when we don’t have to and standing up for someone who’s been unjustly accused shows character.

– People can change. But when we’ve hurt someone (or when someone has hurt us), it takes time to prove there’s been real change. It’s a lot easier to maintain trust that it is to rebuild it.


Application Questions:

– When has my character been revealed lately? What did it look like?

– Whose trust do I need to re-earn? Who needs to re-earn mine?


Genesis 44:1-34 / New International Version (NIV)

44 Now Joseph gave these instructions to the steward of his house: “Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s silver in the mouth of his sack. Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver for his grain.” And he did as Joseph said.

As morning dawned, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys. They had not gone far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, “Go after those men at once, and when you catch up with them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil? Isn’t this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? This is a wicked thing you have done.’”

When he caught up with them, he repeated these words to them. But they said to him, “Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do anything like that! We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the silver we found inside the mouths of our sacks. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.”

10 “Very well, then,” he said, “let it be as you say. Whoever is found to have it will become my slave; the rest of you will be free from blame.”

11 Each of them quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it. 12 Then the steward proceeded to search, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13 At this, they tore their clothes. Then they all loaded their donkeys and returned to the city.

14 Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in, and they threw themselves to the ground before him. 15 Joseph said to them, “What is this you have done? Don’t you know that a man like me can find things out by divination?”

16 “What can we say to my lord?” Judah replied. “What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants’ guilt. We are now my lord’s slaves—we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup.”

17 But Joseph said, “Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the man who was found to have the cup will become my slave. The rest of you, go back to your father in peace.”

18 Then Judah went up to him and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, let me speak a word to my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself. 19 My lord asked his servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 20 And we answered, ‘We have an aged father, and there is a young son born to him in his old age. His brother is dead, and he is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.’

21 “Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me so I can see him for myself.’ 22 And we said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father; if he leaves him, his father will die.’ 23 But you told your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you will not see my face again.’ 24 When we went back to your servant my father, we told him what my lord had said.

25 “Then our father said, ‘Go back and buy a little more food.’ 26 But we said, ‘We cannot go down. Only if our youngest brother is with us will we go. We cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’

27 “Your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons. 28 One of them went away from me, and I said, “He has surely been torn to pieces.” And I have not seen him since. 29 If you take this one from me too and harm comes to him, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in misery.’

30 “So now, if the boy is not with us when I go back to your servant my father, and if my father, whose life is closely bound up with the boy’s life, 31 sees that the boy isn’t there, he will die. Your servants will bring the gray head of our father down to the grave in sorrow. 32 Your servant guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father. I said, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, I will bear the blame before you, my father, all my life!’

33 “Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. 34 How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come on my father.”

Life of Joseph – Part 31 – Overcome by Emotions

In today’s verses, Joseph’s brothers get to have lunch with him in his house. And they give him the gifts their father had them bring for him.

When they give him the gifts, they bow down before him . . . again. Don’t you know that those childhood dreams keep popping back up in his mind every time he sees them bowing down?

Then he asks about their father, if he’s still alive. They let him know he is.

Then Joseph looks around and sees Benjamin — his only full brother. He asks if that’s their younger brother they told him about and then he says to Benjamin, “God be gracious to you, my son!” And he immediately runs out of the room because he can’t contain his emotions any longer.

I wouldn’t have made it that long! What a dramatic scene.

When Joseph has a good cry and gets his emotions under control again, he comes back in and has his servants serve lunch.

And he plays with his brothers’ minds a wee bit. He has them seated in birth order. And they notice it. In fact the Amplified Bible says, “. . . the men looked at one another amazed [that so much was known about them].”

And he had the servants give Benjamin five times as much food as the other brothers.

Maybe I’m just a suspicious sort, but I think my radar would be going crazy. I’d be wondering how the governor of Egypt found out our ages and why he likes Benjamin so much!

I do have a serious question, though. Why does Joseph take so long to reveal his identity to his brothers?

I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a sermon explaining that.

I can understand why he didn’t reveal himself to his half-brothers on their first trip there. If he had, I’m not sure they would have ever returned, because I don’t think they would have trusted him.

I have a guess as to why. But it’s just my opinion.

I think Joseph knew he had to establish himself in his new identity and in his position of authority before he could safely reveal who he was to his family.

It reminds me of something a Bible teacher said the other day. She talked about how we are adults and we are responsible for our attitudes and behaviors, no matter what may have happened to us as kids that we had no control over. Then she talked about how she feels 12 years old every time she goes back to her parents’ house. She says that’s one of the hardest places to act like an adult because your parents and siblings KNOW YOU! And they can still easily see you as the kid you once were.

So my thought is that Joseph knew he did not want to go back to being thought of as the obnoxious, mistreated, apple-of-Daddy’s-eye, immature, teenager who was hated and bullied by his older half-brothers. He didn’t want them to see him like that. He had come too far and worked too hard and he deserved more respect than that.

So he made sure they knew who he was and how far his authority reached. He made sure he had their respect before he revealed who he was.

I don’t think he did it for spite or vengeance. I just think he knew he had to set firm boundaries . . . because he KNEW his half-brothers!

I’d love to hear what you think his reasons were!


Genesis 43:24-34 / Amplified Bible (AMP)

24 And the man brought the men into Joseph’s house and gave them water, and they washed their feet; and he gave their donkeys provender.

25 And they made ready the present they had brought for Joseph before his coming at noon, for they heard that they were to dine there.

26 And when Joseph came home, they brought into the house to him the present which they had with them, and bowed themselves to him to the ground.

27 He asked them of their welfare and said, Is your old father well, of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?

28 And they answered, Your servant our father is in good health; he is still alive. And they bowed down their heads and made obeisance.

29 And he looked up and saw his [full] brother Benjamin, his mother’s [only other] son, and said, Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me? And he said, God be gracious to you, my son!

30 And Joseph hurried from the room, for his heart yearned for his brother, and he sought privacy to weep; so he entered his chamber and wept there.

31 And he washed his face and went out, and, restraining himself, said, Let dinner be served.

32 And [the servants] set out [the food] for [Joseph] by himself, and for [his brothers] by themselves, and for those Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, according to the Egyptian custom not to eat food with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination to the Egyptians.

33 And [Joseph’s brothers] were given seats before him—the eldest according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth; and the men looked at one another amazed [that so much was known about them].

34 [Joseph] took and sent helpings to them from before him, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs. And they drank freely and were merry with him.

Life of Joseph – Part 30 – Ruled by Fear

The verses we’re looking at today are about the brothers’ second trip to Egypt to purchase grain.

What grabbed my attention was the fear that ruled their lives. Check it out.


Genesis 43:15-23 / New International Version (NIV)

15 So the men took the gifts and double the amount of silver, and Benjamin also. They hurried down to Egypt and presented themselves to Joseph. 16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, “Take these men to my house, slaughter an animal and prepare a meal; they are to eat with me at noon.”

17 The man did as Joseph told him and took the men to Joseph’s house. 18 Now the men were frightened when they were taken to his house. They thought, “We were brought here because of the silver that was put back into our sacks the first time. He wants to attack us and overpower us and seize us as slaves and take our donkeys.”

19 So they went up to Joseph’s steward and spoke to him at the entrance to the house. 20 “We beg your pardon, our lord,” they said, “we came down here the first time to buy food. 21 But at the place where we stopped for the night we opened our sacks and each of us found his silver—the exact weight—in the mouth of his sack. So we have brought it back with us. 22 We have also brought additional silver with us to buy food. We don’t know who put our silver in our sacks.”

23 “It’s all right,” he said. “Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks; I received your silver.” Then he brought Simeon out to them.


The brothers respond to everything with fear. And they always expect the worse case scenario.

In these verses, Joseph asked his steward to take the men to his house and prepare lunch for them. The brothers are terrified. In fact, they list four things they’re expecting Joseph to do when they go to his house. And none of them include lunch.

They’re expecting him to (1) attack them, (2) overpower them, (3) seize them as slaves, and (4) take their donkeys.

It would be comical if it wasn’t so sad.

And, as we’ve noted before, these boys are just living out the way they were raised. You’ll remember that just last week we saw where good ol’ Dad almost allowed the entire family to die of starvation before he would let Benjamin out of his sight — because he was afraid something would happen to him.

Living life from a heart of fear is such a poor way to live. In fact, I’m not sure you can call it living. I think a better term would be existing. Or maybe even wasting.

I “wasted” many years of my life. I would wake up every morning recalling the things I was afraid would happen that day, remembering the bad things that had already happened, listing the coming events that I dreaded, and facing the day already defeated.

Thankfully I no longer live like that.

One thing that helped me overcome the stranglehold fear had on me was memorizing relevant scripture that I could quote when I needed to remember and focus on TRUTH instead of the LIES waiting to defeat me. And my favorite passage, that I can still quote today, comes from Philippians 4:6-7, out of The Living Bible.

“Don’t worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything. Tell God your needs and don’t forget to thank Him for His answers. If you do this you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can comprehend. His peace will keep your thoughts and your heart quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.”

God doesn’t want us living life from a place of fear. That’s how Satan wants us to live, because it renders us powerless. And I can tell you from personal experience that living a fear-filled life is just a waste.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Corrie Ten Boom about worry:

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength. It does not enable us to escape evil, it makes us unfit to face evil when it comes. It is the interest you pay on trouble before it comes.”

And I’ll close with another great quote from her about fear:

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

Life of Joseph – Part 29 – Getting Desperate

Today we’re looking at Genesis 43:1-14 which is posted at the end.

The grain that the brothers brought back from Egypt is gone. There’s severe hunger, destitution and starvation throughout Canaan . . . including Israel’s entire family.

So Israel asks the brothers to go back to Egypt and get more grain.

This time it’s Judah that speaks for the brothers. He reminds their father that they won’t be able to buy more grain unless they take Benjamin to Egypt with them.

And we’re right back in the family dynamics where the father blames the sons for telling “the man” too much information about the family, allowing him to require exactly what Israel doesn’t want to give.

Israel finally concedes that they have to take Benjamin because the family will starve without more grain.

In addition to Benjamin, he also sent gifts of the choicest produce from the land and prays for God’s mercy and favor to bring his sons (Benjamin and Simeon) back home.

Here are three truths I saw:

1. When our life is ruled by fear, we often blame others for causing it.

– The fear of losing Benjamin ruled Israel’s life. He blamed others every time something happened that brought that fear to the surface. Blaming someone else for our issues keeps us from having to face the fact that we are the only one choosing to let those issues control us.

2. Tough circumstances in life REVEAL where our thoughts are focused.

– These events didn’t cause Israel to fear. These events revealed again the fear that had been ruling his life for years.

3. Sometimes we have to get desperate before we’re willing to face our fears.

– Israel finally faced the fact that if he didn’t take a chance and let Benjamin go to Egypt with his brothers, the entire family was going to starve to death. He finally reached the point where the thought of losing his entire family, including himself, was more painful than facing the possibility of losing his favorite living son. Sometimes when we’re living in painful dysfunction, it takes a situation that is even more painful in order to wake us up and make us confront the dysfunction we’ve been living with. This is typically called “hitting bottom.”

Application Questions:

1. Who/What do I blame for causing the problems/issues in my life? What fears do I face on a regular basis? What issues do they cause in my life?

2. Where are my thoughts focused? What circumstances have happened that have revealed them?

3. What fear do I hold on to until I’m desperate? Why does that fear have such a stronghold on my life? What do I need to do about it?


Genesis 43:1-14 / Amplified Bible (AMP)

43 But the hunger and destitution and starvation were very severe and extremely distressing in the land [Canaan].

And when [the families of Jacob’s sons] had eaten up the grain which the men had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, Go again; buy us a little food.

But Judah said to him, The man solemnly and sternly warned us, saying, You shall not see my face again unless your brother is with you.

If you will send our brother with us, we will go down [to Egypt] and buy you food;

But if you will not send him, we will not go down; for the man said to us, You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.

And Israel said, Why did you do me such a wrong and suffer this evil to come upon me by telling the man that you had another brother?

And they said, The man asked us straightforward questions about ourselves and our relatives. He said, Is your father still alive? Have you another brother? And we answered him accordingly. How could we know that he would say, Bring your brother down here?

And Judah said to Israel his father, Send the lad with me and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, both we and you and also our little ones.

I will be security for him; you shall require him of me [personally]; if I do not bring him back to you and put him before you, then let me bear the blame forever.

10 For if we had not lingered like this, surely by now we would have returned the second time.

11 And their father Israel said to them, If it must be so, now do this; take of the choicest products in the land in your sacks and carry down a present to the man, a little balm (balsam) and a little honey, aromatic spices and gum (of rock rose) or ladanum, pistachio nuts, and almonds.

12 And take double the [grain] money with you; and the money that was put back in the mouth of your sacks, carry it again with you; there is a possibility that [its being in your sacks] was an oversight.

13 Take your brother and arise and return to the man;

14 May God Almighty give you mercy and favor before the man, that he may release to you your other brother and Benjamin. If I am bereaved [of my sons], I am bereaved.