Joseph has forgiven his brothers. We don’t know exactly when Joseph forgave them, but it was obviously long before they showed up. Joseph probably would never have thrived in Egypt if he had not forgiven because, most likely, the anger and bitterness would have eaten away at his soul and damaged his relations with the Lord.
Several studies of survivors of tragedy inflicted on them by others have highlighted the fact that for victims of the most horrible suffering, forgiveness was a key factor to find healing and to get their lives together again. Without forgiveness, we remain victims. Forgiveness has more to do with ourselves than with the person or persons who have wronged us.
Even though Joseph has forgiven his brothers, he is not willing to let the family relationships pick up where he left them; that is, at the dry pit at Dothan. He has to see if anything has changed.
What does Joseph overhear? Read Genesis 42:21-24. What does he learn about his brothers?
All communication has been taking place through an interpreter, and so Joseph’s brothers are unaware that he can understand them. Joseph hears his brothers’ confession. The brothers had thought that by getting rid of Joseph, they would be free from his reporting to their father. They thought that they would not have to put up with his dreams or watch him revel in the role of being their father’s favorite. But instead of finding rest, they have been plagued by a guilty conscience all these years. Their deed had led to restlessness and a paralyzing fear of God’s retribution. Joseph actually feels sorry for their suffering. He weeps for them.
Joseph knows that the famine will still last several more years, and so he insists that they bring Benjamin back with them the next time they come to buy grain (Genesis 42:20). He also keeps Simeon hostage (Genesis 42:24).
After seeing that Benjamin is still alive, he organizes a feast in which he obviously shows favoritism to Benjamin (Genesis 43:34) to see if the old patterns of jealousy were still there. The brothers don’t show any signs of being jealous, but Joseph knows how cunning they can be. After all, they did deceive a whole town (Genesis 34:13), and he surely figures that they must have lied to their own father about his fate (Genesis 37:31-34). So, he devises one more major test. (See Genesis 44:1-34.)
|Read Genesis 45:1-15. What does this tell us about how Joseph felt about his brothers and the forgiveness he had given them? What lessons should we take away from this story for ourselves?|