Of Benjamins and Josephs

Genesis 43:33-34; 44:30-34
33 The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest; and they looked at each other in astonishment. 34 When portions were served to them from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as anyone else’s. So they feasted and drank freely with him.

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.”

Genesis 43-44 tell us how Joseph, upon having recognised his brothers in Egypt, tested his brothers on their attitude towards a brother who was favoured : Benjamin. It was their envy and jealousy towards Joseph in the past that led to Joseph being sold as a slave to Egypt.

And in Genesis 44:33, we hear such a change of heart! Instead of allowing Benjamin to be left behind and take the blame, one of the brothers actually offered himself in Benjamin’s place. Joseph had made it so easy to for them to put the blame on Benjamin this time. He had stated that it was only fair to punish only the perpetrator in whose sack his silver cup was found. “The silly boy, he should have known better than to covet one of Pharaohs chief ministers cup. We had no choice but to leave him behind,” right?

But somehow, something had changed them over the years. They couldn’t do this to Benjamin, no, not this time. Perhaps it was the very experience of selling their step brother Joseph off in a moment of anger, watching father mourn the loss of his favoured son, bearing the guilt of the lie they told father — of the “wild beast” that had taken his beloved Joesph away from him, the regret that they could have stopped themselves — and each other — from getting so carried away with teaching their tactless, show off, tattle tale of a brother a lesson he would never forget.

And perhaps you find yourself being one of these “experiences”. Someone is mistreating you, and while your acknowledge your wrongs, you find it a little too much, a little unacceptable. Take comfort, brothers and sisters, that perhaps, just perhaps, you are part of an experience that God is using to change that person.

Thank You, Father for the times that we are Benjamins, when we reap the blessings of those who have gone before us. We choose to thank You too, Father when we feel more like Joesphs, unjustly wronged, because we believe that You see the entire story whilst we only see a portion. Help us, Father to remain hopeful and to love as You first loved us. Thank You for Your grace, that is sufficient for us in every situation. Thank You, in Jesus name we pray, amen.

Genesis 50:20

20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

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