Thursday, April 2, 2009

Joseph: Genesis 42:1-38 "Perspectives"

Read Genesis 42:1-38.

"So when Joseph's brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground." NIV
This passage presents some very interesting sociological aspects. We have three groups at work here -- Joseph, the brothers, and Jacob. Each with their own perspective and response to the situation and to the others involved.

The Brothers: I find it very interesting that the brothers immediately take the governor's accusations of them being spies and the harsh treatment they received as punishment by God because of how they treated Joseph. They see this as their judgment day. You have to remember that this is taking place 20 years after Joseph was sold into slavery. But that action is the sin they associate with an accounting and thus are eager to comply.

Jacob: Jacob, on the other hand, blames the brothers for everything. He has not led the most exemplary life, yet does not set any blame on himself, but on his sons. Where is personal responsibility? To add to it, Jacob shows more concern for Benjamin than the other sons whose lives are in jeopardy.

Joseph: What are Joseph's motives here? Revenge? Settling the score? Or a true test of his brothers' character? I think some anger was probably involved. That's probably one of the reasons Joseph left them in the prison for three days -- time for him to cool off. He is softer on them after the three days. Initially he said that all of them would stay in prison and one go back for Benjamin. Then he changes to one stay and all the others go back with the grain needed for their families and all their silver.

There is a fourth person of note here -- Reuben. In Joseph's presence Reuben basically says to his brothers, "I told you so." But then includes himself in the punishment that must be received. He says, "Now we must give an accounting for his blood." Even though Reuben had told them not to hurt Joseph and had not even been there when they sold him, Reuben takes equal responsibility for the crime and thus know he will receive equal punishment.

Reuben is also the one to entrust his own two sons' lives in Jacob's hands if he is unsuccessful in bringing Benjamin safely home. He demonstrates a like character with Joseph by his actions -- a man of responsibility and integrity.

Further Thoughts:
  1. Where do our motivations come from? How do we prepare ourselves to make right decisions in tough situations? Support with Scripture.
  2. Do you have trouble taking personal responsibility for bad situations? Why? What makes people place blame on everyone else but themselves?
  3. Define integrity.
  4. Define humility.
  5. Define imperfection.

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