20 November 2023

Genesis 41:53-42:6

Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground. (v. 6)

Psalm 25: 1-7


When we left the story of Joseph last week, he had just been sold into slavery by his brothers. Much has happened in the meantime. Joseph’s skill and integrity have brought him to a position of high responsibility in the house of Potiphar, a government official in Egypt. That same integrity has led him to reject the sexual advances of Potiphar’s wife and resulted in his imprisonment on false charges. While in prison his skill in interpreting dreams has become recognised, so much so that when King Pharaoh has a troublesome dream Joseph not only interprets it to tell of seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine but advises how to respond to the situation.  As a result Joseph is put in charge of the whole of the land of Egypt.  In telling this story the author of the book of Genesis states more than once that “the Lord was with Joseph” so he prospered.

In today’s reading Jacob (Joseph's father living in Canaan) makes the understandable, but in time momentous decision to send ten of his sons to Egypt to buy grain. They come and offer the natural respect of suppliants to a foreign leader by bowing down before Joseph. (They don't realise he is their younger brother who they had sold into slavery.)  In so doing they unknowingly fulfil Joseph’s early dream of his brothers' sheaves of corn bowing down to his sheaf (Genesis 37:7). 


To Ponder:

  • Joseph’s story has many high points and low points, yet “the Lord was with him”. What helps you to sense that Lord is with you in the high and low points of your life?
  • Today’s psalm includes the words “Do not remember the sins of my youth…” (Psalm 25:7). How can we ensure that past mistakes and regrets in our lives do not spoil our current relationship with God and with other people?


“Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me.” (Psalm 25:4-5)

Bible notes author

The Revd Donald Ker

Donald Ker is a supernumerary minister originally from the Methodist Church in Ireland. He now lives in Solihull, near Birmingham. He has served as a circuit minister, as a university chaplain, as Senior Tutor in Edgehill Theological College and as Superintendent Minister at Belfast Central Mission. Donald was also General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Ireland for some years and its President in 2009/2010.

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