Today’s passage starts off back in Canaan, Joseph’s homeland.
The famine has now hit hard in Canaan, too, and Jacob (Israel), Joseph’s father, has learned that there’s grain for sale in Egypt. He accuses his sons of just staring at each other instead of figuring out how they were going to keep themselves and their families alive!
Later in the passage, I love how Joseph extracts information from his brothers that he already knows but has to pretend he doesn’t know. Reading through this part of the story, I can almost hear the wheels turning in Joseph’s head. He’s having to figure out how to keep his emotions in check, how to find out if Benjamin and his Dad are still alive, how to get Benjamin to Egypt, and later how to get the entire clan to move there so they’ll survive the famine.
The passage we’re covering today (Genesis 41:1-20) is further down, for your reading pleasure.
Here are the truths I saw in these verses:
(1) Dysfunction doesn’t just go away with the passing of time. In fact, it may get worse if not dealt with.
– In the first couple of verses it sounds to me like Jacob was still treating his sons like misbehaving children.
– And he wouldn’t let Benjamin (Joseph’s only full brother) go with them on the trip to buy grain because he was afraid something would happen to him.
(2) Our God-given dreams sometimes happen decades later and in a way we would have never guessed — but we will know them when we see them come true.
What dysfunction in my life and in my family needs to be dealt with?
What fears are still ruling my life? The life of a loved one?
What dreams am I still waiting to see happen?
Genesis 42:1-20 / Amplified Bible (AMP)
Now when Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, Why do you look at one another?
2 For, he said, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt; get down there and buy [grain] for us, that we may live and not die.
3 So ten of Joseph’s brethren went to buy grain in Egypt.
4 But Benjamin, Joseph’s [full] brother, Jacob did not send with his brothers; for he said, Lest perhaps some harm or injury should befall him.
5 So the sons of Israel came to buy grain among those who came, for there was hunger and general lack of food in the land of Canaan.
6 Now Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was who sold to all the people of the land; and Joseph’s [half] brothers came and bowed themselves down before him with their faces to the ground.
7 Joseph saw his brethren and he recognized them, but he treated them as if he were a stranger to them and spoke roughly to them. He said, Where do you come from? And they replied, From the land of Canaan to buy food.
8 Joseph knew his brethren, but they did not know him.
9 And Joseph remembered the dreams he had dreamed about them and said to them, You are spies and with unfriendly purpose you have come to observe [secretly] the nakedness of the land.
10 But they said to him, No, my lord, but your servants have come [only] to buy food.
11 We are all one man’s sons; we are true men; your servants are not spies.
12 And he said to them, No, but you have come to see the nakedness of the land.
13 But they said, Your servants are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; the youngest is today with our father, and one is not.
14 And Joseph said to them, It is as I said to you, You are spies.
15 You shall be proved by this test: by the life of Pharaoh, you shall not go away from here unless your youngest brother comes here.
16 Send one of you and let him bring your brother, and you will be kept in prison, that your words may be proved whether there is any truth in you; or else by the life of Pharaoh you certainly are spies.
17 Then he put them all in custody for three days.
18 And Joseph said to them on the third day, Do this and live! I reverence and fear God.
19 If you are true men, let one of your brothers be bound in your prison, but [the rest of] you go and carry grain for those weakened with hunger in your households.
20 But bring your youngest brother to me, so your words will be verified and you shall live. And they did so.