I had a moment the other day, were I sat down to do my bible reading *again* and realized that I’ve only been at this for 2 weeks. I still have 350-ish days to go! It sounds obvious that reading the bible over the course of a year will take a whole year..but FSM! I’ve committed to a whole year of this!
I’m currently also re-reading the first Game of Thrones book so as to refresh my memory on all the characters before I jump in to the rest of the series. (Haven’t seen the show, so no spoilers, please!) The GoT books are huge! I’ve got thousands of pages of reading ahead of me, but I’m looking forward to those. That says something about the Bible- that it is supposedly the unerring word of God, but it’s vastly less interesting than a fantasy novel.
That little soapbox aside, let’s get on with this.
Chapter 43- Jacob’s family runs out of food again, so he finally agrees to send Benjamin with the brothers back to Egypt to buy more grain. He also sends many gifts for Joseph (remember, they still don’t know it’s Joe) in hopes that he will be kind and let Benjamin come home unharmed. Joseph releases Simeon and has a feast prepared for his brothers, but is still keeping up the ruse and doesn’t admit who he is.
It doesn’t say how much time passes between chapters 42 and 43. Joseph sent them home with a lot of grain, but I’m sure 12 people (plus their families) could quickly deplete any stash of food. But, however long it was, I still feel badly for Simeon, stuck in jail until his father’s hunger finally overcomes his overprotective ways with Benjamin.
The other thing that stood out to me here was verse 32, which describes the feast. Joseph sits at one table, his brothers at another, and other Egyptians at another because “the Egyptians could not eat food with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians.” I wonder what that’s all about. Some brief internet research indicates that there were two Hebrew words in the Bible that have been translated into English as “abomination.” The one used here is the same kind of abomination as idolatry, murder, male prostitution and child sacrifice. Apparently the Egyptians had a serious issue with the Hebrews. (Which might make sense after the time of Moses…but before?)
Chapter 44- Joseph has his servants fill the brothers’ sacks with grain, and again has their money given back to them. He also has his silver cup placed in Benjamin’s sack. After the brother’s leave, he has his steward chase them down and accuse them of stealing. They claim they didn’t do it, and agree to let the steward kill whomever took it and the rest will become slaves (but the steward just says he’ll just take the guilty one as a slave). Of course, it is found in Ben’s sack, so all the brother’s go back to Egypt to plead with Joseph to let Benjamin go free. They explain how Jacob will die from grief if Benjamin doesn’t return home, and Judah offers to stay in his place.
Verse 9: “With whomever of your servants it is found, let him die, and we also will be my lord’s slaves.” Seriously, what a stupid deal to make. Even if you think you’re innocent, don’t agree to the death penalty!
It’s nice to see the brothers sticking up for Benjamin and taking Jacob’s feelings in to account for a change. They had little hesitation in getting rid of the favorite son, but at least they’ve learned a little empathy since then.
Chapter 45- Joseph sends everyone away except his brothers, and finally reveals who he is. He forgives them for selling him into slavery, since it’s worked out so well for him, and tells them to go fetch Jacob and come live near him. Pharaoh hears about this, and is happy that Joseph is happy. Pharaoh tells the brothers to bring back the whole family, and they can have the best land and eat the best food and he’ll provide for them. So the brothers go home and tell Jacob that Joseph is alive. Jacob doesn’t believe them at first, but eventually he does, and is happy, and agrees to go see Joe.
It’s good to have friends in high places, especially during a famine.
Verse 8: Joseph says, “So now it was not you who sent me here, but God…” It seems to me that God’s plan was rather convoluted. We’re asked to accept that God allowed the bad things to happen to Joseph so that he could end up in Pharaoh’s house and prepare for the famine so as to save his family from starvation. But, couldn’t God have just prevented the famine in the first place? Or found a nicer way to transport Joe to Egypt? It sounds to me like this story is about rationalizing why bad things happen. If you pretend it was part of God’s mysterious plan, you don’t have to feel so bad when your life goes to shit.
Also, it makes sense that Pharaoh would want to help Joe bring his family closer, since Joe has been a really bang up servant to Pharaoh. It’s a nice reward. But in light of the fact that Hebrews are an abomination to Egyptians, it does seem a bit strange that he would agree to have a whole herd of Hebrews move in…
And now, I’m going to hang my hammock and spend the rest of the day reading Game of Thrones.