Now, it’s time to focus on what Joseph’s brothers experienced. For the past several posts, we’ve been looking at how God wanted to bring healing to Joseph’s childhood wounds and He wanted to bring forgiveness to Joseph’s brothers’s guilty hearts. That could best be done through the brothers experiencing Joseph’s pain and Joseph taking steps to help them, instead of cursing them with unforgiveness. Joseph experienced confusion, rejection, fear, panic, hunger, cold, voicelessness, victim mentality, and the loss of his innocence. Let’s see what the brothers experienced. You most likely know the story but please try to put yourself within the story so that you can experience the brothers’s distress. Who knows what healing God might want to do within you.
1. Genesis 42:1-2: “‘Now Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, and Jacob said to his sons, ‘Why are you staring at one another?’ He said, ‘Behold, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt; go down there and buy some for us from that place, so that we may live and not die.’”
We can easily read over these lines without an emotional reaction. But when the brothers heard their father‘s words, there was one word that gave them an emotional reaction: Egypt!
Let’s set the scene. The brothers have carried a guilty heart for decades. They know Joseph is alive although their father thinks he’s dead. At least, there’s every reason to believe he’s still alive. The traders who bought him were headed for Egypt. It makes sense that Joseph ended up in Egypt. And maybe the brothers are even looking over their shoulders every once in a while wondering if he’ll saunter into camp and tell their father the whole huge, horrible story about them! Guilt and dread are their every–day companions. Do some of them even still have the coins that they received for selling him? Maybe it was just too hard to use the money so it’s stashed away in some trunk calling to them.
Remember Edgar Allen Poe’s poem, “The Tell-Tale Heart“? The narrator has killed a man and buried him in the floorboards of his home. In his guilt, he has the auditory hallucination of hearing the man’s beating heart. The sound drives him almost insane and eventually confesses to being a murderer. Well, okay, I admit I’m going too far. But I would venture to think that their guilt is still haunting them, even if it doesn’t sound like a beating heart. Maybe they’re terrified they are going to blurt out their guilt any moment. Maybe they are throwing looks of daggers at each other with the message: “Don’t you dare tell!”
Notice that Jacob says, “I have heard that there is grain in Egypt…” He has heard. What else have they heard? Their neighbors most likely have already been to Egypt and back with food. Did they talk about the man who was in charge who seemed different? Just didn’t seem like an Egyptian? It’s most likely too far fetched to think the brothers would imagine Joseph was in that position, but certainly they’d heard about the “different” guy.
Regardless, other people have already traveled to Egypt to buy food, why haven’t Jacob’s family? Why? Because the brothers are terrified of Egypt. Will they happen to run into Joseph? No wonder when their father says that feared word “Egypt,” the brothers sit around staring at each other. They all know what’s on the other brothers’s minds and they are determined to avoid the pain of possible exposure of their sin–even at the expense of hunger. No wonder their father has to give them a verbal kick in the pants: “Why are you staring at one another?”
Next time we’ll continue the story. But if you think of elements you see in the story, please make a comment.