16 November 2020

Genesis 41:53 - 42:6

When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, 'Go to Joseph; what he says to you, do.' Genesis 41:55

Psalm 25:1-7


Many people's knowledge of Joseph is limited to the musical Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat or perhaps to what they heard in Sunday school about the cruel way he was treated by his brothers just because he had some interesting dream. However the passages we have from the Book of Genesis this week speak of a journey, beginning in Canaan and concluding in Egypt. The previous chapters told how Joseph, betrayed by his brothers, was sold into slavery and rose to greatness in Egypt through enabling Pharaoh to understand his dreams.

Today we join the story just as the predicted famine has taken over the area. Initially Egypt seems to have been exempt, however that did not last and the people pleaded with Pharaoh for help. Joseph was put in charge of the food store and the people were fed. The news that there was food available spread to Jacob and his family and the brothers were despatched to plead for help. Jacob however insisted that the youngest of the boys, Benjamin, stayed at home within the family. The brothers arrive in Egypt and are greeted by the Governor of the country, who recognises them, but they are not aware that he is Joseph who they sold into slavery. The brothers bow down in homage to beg for the food they so desperately need.

If we read further then we hear that, having been accused of being spies, they are told to leave one of their number behind to prove what they have said about the family. Simeon is left behind as surety, they are given the food they have paid for and leave for home. They are no doubt very concerned at the demand that they should bring their youngest brother to prove their honesty. In our Bible passage today, we have the foundation for the account which is to follow – the brothers have arrived in Egypt and made their plea; they wait to hear what the result of their pleading might be.

To Ponder:

  • How do you think the brothers would feel when their father sent them to an alien land to seek food?
  • If you had been Joseph what would your attitude have been when faced with the men who had treated you so cruelly?

Bible notes author

The Revd Pat Billsborrow

Pat Billsborrow is a supernumerary minister in the Northwich and Winsford Circuit. She is ecumenical officer in the Cheshire part of the Chester and Stoke on Trent Methodist District.

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