1When Jacob found out there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why are you just sitting here, staring at one another? 2 I have heard there is grain in Egypt. Go down and buy some, so we won't starve to death.”
3Ten of Joseph's brothers went to Egypt to buy grain. 4But Jacob did not send Joseph's younger brother Benjamin with them; he was afraid that something might happen to him. 5So Jacob's sons joined others from Canaan who were going to Egypt because of the terrible famine.
6Since Joseph was governor of Egypt and in charge of selling grain, his brothers came to him and bowed with their faces to the ground. 7-8They did not recognize Joseph, but at once he knew who they were, though he pretended not to know. Instead, he spoke harshly and asked, “Where do you come from?”
“From the land of Canaan,” they answered. “We've come here to buy grain.”
9 Joseph remembered what he had dreamed about them and said, “You're spies! You've come here to find out where our country is weak.”
10“No sir,” they replied. “We're your servants, and we have only come to buy grain. 11We're honest men, and we come from the same family—we're not spies.”
12“That isn't so!” Joseph insisted. “You've come here to find out where our country is weak.”
13But they explained, “Sir, we come from a family of twelve brothers. The youngest is still with our father in Canaan, and one of our brothers is dead.”
It's like I said. You're spies, 15and I'm going to find out the truth. I swear by the life of the king that you won't leave this place until your youngest brother comes here. 16Choose one of you to go after your brother, while the rest of you stay here in jail. That will show whether you are telling the truth. But if you are lying, I swear by the life of the king that you are spies!
17Joseph kept them all under guard for three days, 18before saying to them:
Since I respect God, I'll give you a chance to save your lives. 19If you are honest men, one of you must stay here in jail, and the rest of you can take the grain back to your starving families. 20But you must bring your youngest brother to me. Then I'll know that you are telling the truth, and you won't be put to death.
Joseph's brothers agreed 21and said to one another, “We're being punished because of Joseph. We saw the trouble he was in, but we refused to help him when he begged us. That's why these terrible things are happening.”
22 Reuben spoke up, “Didn't I tell you not to harm the boy? But you wouldn't listen, and now we have to pay the price for killing him.”
23They did not know that Joseph could understand them, since he was speaking through an interpreter. 24Joseph turned away from them and cried, but soon he turned back and spoke to them again. Then he had Simeon tied up and taken away while they watched.
With the arrival of Joseph’s brothers in Egypt a long story of testing begins. Joseph recognized his brothers, whereas they, not surprisingly, didn’t recognize him. When they bow down, he sees the fulfilment of his dream in Genesis 37:7. Joseph, now in command of the situation, needs to test them. In the process the brothers experience what Joseph had experienced at their hands, and Joseph gradually finds out the truth about his family, which he needs to know before he can respond to them with justice.
Joseph puts his brothers in prison for three days, just as they had put him in the pit (Genesis 37:20-24). On the third day, he tells them that because he respects God, he will give them a chance to save their lives. One of them must go home and bring back their younger brother.
Joseph overhears them talking to each other, saying that all of these terrible things are happening to them because of what they had done to their brother.
This is the first time in all these many years that he has had any indication of remorse on their parts for what they had done to him. And this is enough to cause Joseph, the powerful ruler of Egypt, to turn away from them so that they don’t see him cry.
“Confronting the abuser” is an important step in the healing journey from the effects of verbal, physical or sexual abuse, but it is perhaps the most difficult step.
Jesus understands what you are going through; he went through it also: “He was hated and rejected; his life was filled with sorrow and terrible suffering. No one wanted to look at him. We despised him and said, ‘He is a nobody!’” (Isaiah 53:3)
Dear Jesus, you know and understand what we are going through. We pray that you would help us on our healing journey, especially during those times when we encounter people from our past who have hurt us. Amen