1-14 The Second Journey to Egypt 15-23 Reception in Egypt 24-34 Second Meeting with Joseph
The Second Journey to Egypt

1Now the famine was severe in the land. 2So it came about when they had finished eating the grain which they had brought from Egypt, that their father said to them, “Go back, buy us a little food.” 3Judah spoke to him, however, saying, “The man solemnly warned us, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.’ 4If you send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food. 5But if you do not send [him], we will not go down; for the man said to us, ‘You will not see my face unless your brother is with you.’” 6Then Israel said, “Why did you treat me so badly by telling the man whether you still had [another] brother?” 7But they said, “The man questioned particularly about us and our relatives, saying, ‘Is your father still alive? Have you [another] brother?’ So we answered his questions. Could we possibly know that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down’?” 8Judah said to his father Israel, “Send the lad with me and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, we as well as you and our little ones. 9I myself will be surety for him; you may hold me responsible for him. If I do not bring him [back] to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame before you forever. 10For if we had not delayed, surely by now we could have returned twice.” 11Then their father Israel said to them, “If [it must be] so, then do this: take some of the best products of the land in your bags, and carry down to the man as a present, a little balm and a little honey, aromatic gum and myrrh, pistachio nuts and almonds. 12Take double [the] money in your hand, and take back in your hand the money that was returned in the mouth of your sacks; perhaps it was a mistake. 13Take your brother also, and arise, return to the man; 14and may God Almighty grant you compassion in the sight of the man, so that he will release to you your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.”

Joseph and Benjamin together are a picture of the Messiah. In Joseph we see the suffering servant of the LORD, rejected and in this time glorified. In Benjamin we see the Messiah Who will soon reign in power and majesty (Gen 49:2727“Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
In the morning he devours the prey,
And in the evening he divides the spoil.”
), the Son of the right hand of the Father (Gen 35:1818It came about as her soul was departing (for she died), that she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.). The orthodox Jews expect the Messiah today, but only as Benjamin. The brothers have rejected Joseph, but they love Benjamin.

The most terrible thing for Jacob is not famine, but that he has to give Benjamin away. Forced by the famine Jacob and the brothers now have to bring Benjamin to Joseph, that means to unite Benjamin and Joseph. Judah, who urged the rejection of Joseph (Gen 37:2626Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it for us to kill our brother and cover up his blood?), now shows himself as the one who seeks the interest of his father and Benjamin. There is a work of recovery going on in him and the brothers. Jacob finally admits. First he arranges everything again to appease “the man”. Only then does he give the matter into the hands of God, the Almighty. Here we see for a moment the old Jacob again.

Yet there is also the memory of the mercy of God, upon which he wants to trust. We can entrust ourselves to this in the way we have to go; there is no other way. Sometimes we have to be forced to experience that mercy. Jacob thinks he loses everything, but he gets everything back and that to a greater extent than he has lost it. Thus is God’s way to bless us.

Reception in Egypt

15So the men took this present, and they took double [the] money in their hand, and Benjamin; then they arose and went down to Egypt and stood before Joseph. 16When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to his house steward, “Bring the men into the house, and slay an animal and make ready; for the men are to dine with me at noon.” 17So the man did as Joseph said, and brought the men to Joseph’s house. 18Now the men were afraid, because they were brought to Joseph’s house; and they said, “[It is] because of the money that was returned in our sacks the first time that we are being brought in, that he may seek occasion against us and fall upon us, and take us for slaves with our donkeys.” 19So they came near to Joseph’s house steward, and spoke to him at the entrance of the house, 20and said, “Oh, my lord, we indeed came down the first time to buy food, 21and it came about when we came to the lodging place, that we opened our sacks, and behold, each man’s money was in the mouth of his sack, our money in full. So we have brought it back in our hand. 22We have also brought down other money in our hand to buy food; we do not know who put our money in our sacks.” 23He said, “Be at ease, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks; I had your money.” Then he brought Simeon out to them.

They are on their way, with Benjamin. But it remains to be proven whether they go alone because of hunger and therefore take Benjamin with them, or whether there is real care for Benjamin. When Joseph sees that the brothers have Benjamin with them, his heart opens further for them. He wants them to come to his house and eat with him. Joseph desires to bless the brothers, but all the benefits only make the brothers more afraid and suspicious. They don’t trust it. Again they try to calm their consciences by giving all kinds of explanations and apologies.

Then they hear from the mouth of Joseph’s house steward: “Be at ease, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks.” They already have been paid for what they want to buy, without knowing it. They are on their way to learn that no one’s own merit can provide for the need in which they are, but that everything is provided for by the grace of God. We must also learn that lesson and we must also repeat it at times.

Second Meeting with Joseph

24Then the man brought the men into Joseph’s house and gave them water, and they washed their feet; and he gave their donkeys fodder. 25So they prepared the present for Joseph’s coming at noon; for they had heard that they were to eat a meal there. 26When Joseph came home, they brought into the house to him the present which was in their hand and bowed to the ground before him. 27Then he asked them about their welfare, and said, “Is your old father well, of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?” 28They said, “Your servant our father is well; he is still alive.” They bowed down in homage. 29As he lifted his eyes and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, he said, “Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me?” And he said, “May God be gracious to you, my son.” 30Joseph hurried [out] for he was deeply stirred over his brother, and he sought [a place] to weep; and he entered his chamber and wept there. 31Then he washed his face and came out; and he controlled himself and said, “Serve the meal.” 32So they served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians could not eat bread with the Hebrews, for that is loathsome to the Egyptians. 33Now they were seated before him, the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth, and the men looked at one another in astonishment. 34He took portions to them from his own table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs. So they feasted and drank freely with him.

When they arrive at Joseph, they bow down before him for the second time. Joseph does not ask for their money, but acts according to his own heart. He cares for them. The brothers think they should bring a gift now that they will dine with the viceroy. However, Joseph does not seem to pay any attention to the gift. In the same way, we too do not need to come to God with gifts if we believe that we should make Him happy as a result.

Joseph has said: “The men are to dine with me at noon” (verse 1616When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to his house steward, “Bring the men into the house, and slay an animal and make ready; for the men are to dine with me at noon.”). Accepting this just like that goes too far for someone who is not convinced of his goodness. Even today it still applies to anyone who, out of false humility, refuses to accept the offer of the Lord Jesus: “Come; for everything is ready now” (Lk 14:16-1716But He said to him, “A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many;17and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’).

Joseph is not interested in their gifts, but in themselves. He asks about their welfare and how their old father is doing. With the question about their welfare, his father had sent him to the brothers more than twenty years ago (Gen 37:1414Then he said to him, “Go now and see about the welfare of your brothers and the welfare of the flock, and bring word back to me.” So he sent him from the valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.). Their answer is that he is well. But is it true? In their answer they do not mention anything of the grief of their old father.

When Joseph sees Benjamin, he has to cry again. He separates himself for that. Sometimes it is good that others see our tears (Acts 20:1919serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews;; 2Tim 1:44longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy.), but sometimes it is also good that others do not see our tears (cf. Jer 13:1717But if you will not listen to it,
My soul will sob in secret for [such] pride;
And my eyes will bitterly weep
And flow down with tears,
Because the flock of the LORD has been taken captive.
; Lk 22:6262And he went out and wept bitterly.). How much he would have liked to have made himself known! But the work in the brothers is not finished yet. In the same way the Lord Jesus deals with the woman at the well of Sychar in John 4. He does not reveal Himself directly to her either, but only after her conscience has come into the light (Jn 4:25-2625The woman *said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.”26Jesus *said to her, “I who speak to you am [He].”).

Joseph controls himself. Although he has not yet made himself known, he shows through the arrangement at the table that he knows them and their history. This again impresses the brothers, who notice from this dealing that their high-ranked host possesses supernatural knowledge about their family relationships. They can only look at each other in amazement. By giving Benjamin five times more than the brothers, Joseph tests their attitude towards Benjamin. Will they become jealous or will they grant it to him?

At the end of the chapter we read for the first time after all the sadness about cheerfulness. The brothers’ joy is not yet about Joseph himself, but only about what they receive from Joseph.

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