Have you ever been hurt by someone you trusted? That maybe the hardest hurt to overcome for any of us. It was no different for Joseph. Although he had forgiven his brothers, he still needed to know if he could ever, fully trust them again. So he had decided to hold onto Simeon and send the other brothers back to Canaan to face their father once again with one less brother. Oh the irony that they were now faced with! They would be telling Jacob the truth but how in the world could they ever explain what has now happened to Simeon.
And especially, after telling Jacob what had happened, they empty their sacks where it is revealed to all of them that the money they had been given to pay for the grain was still in their possession. So they are now telling Jacob the truth but he will not have any of it. Genesis 42:36 – Their father Jacob said to them, “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!” Don’t you kind of feel for Jacob here? He has no one to trust and is adamant that Benjamin will not make the trip to Egypt. And this after Reuben offers up his two sons has ransom if he doesn’t return with Benjamin. For now, Jacob is done with all of it.
As time passes though and they use up all of the grain, they are faced once again with the prospect of not having food. This time however, Judah, makes the plea to return to Egypt with Benjamin to get the grain that they will need. Interesting comparison here between Reuben’s initial plea and that made by Judah. Reuben did not put himself on the line with his plea but rather, his two sons. Judah puts himself on the line; Genesis 43:9 – 9 I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life. It is now cemented for sure that Judah is the true leader among the brothers.
As they present themselves again to Joseph, we now see that he knows they are at least being honest with him as they have indeed, returned with Benjamin. Notice how he greets them; he first asks about their well being but then gets right to the point and ask them about their father. Is he still alive? Then he turns his attention to Benjamin and blesses him. Joseph then excuses himself and leaves their company to regain his composure. Upon returning they all sit down to take part in a meal that Joseph had prepared for them.
Joseph still had one more test for the brothers. He needed to know if the brothers had truly changed or not by finding out what was truly important to them. At this point, I would challenge you to read the whole chapter of Genesis 44. Joseph had arranged it so that Benjamin would be forced to stay with him while the brothers would have to return back to Jacob, once again, without their brother. And throughout the chapter we see that the heart of these 10 brothers have been truly changed. And especially, where Judah is concerned, as he makes a desperate plea to Joseph to keep him instead and let Benjamin return to his father.
Truly Judah’s main concern is that of protecting both his brother and his father’s well being. Offering up himself in order to save his brother from slavery and therefore avoiding sure heartache for his father. Joseph finally knew that he could trust his brothers!
Trust is something that I think all of us can sometimes take for granted. And we shouldn’t! Our word, integrity is something we should guard and protect at all costs!! If we ever lose it, there is no guarantee that we will ever recover it. Notice, that at no time through all of this, has Joseph pointed out to his brothers their faults, misjudgements, lying and deceitful acts. They realize for themselves all that they have done and our forced to deal with it. The fact that it was Judah who makes the final plea to Joseph is fitting since he was the one who initiated the idea of selling Joseph into slavery some 22 years earlier.
One more segment of our study to go and that is the Reunion between Jacob and Joseph. Additionally, I will have one last look at the parallels between Jesus and Joseph.
Peace and thanks for reading.