What they intended for evil, the LORD intended for good… for the saving of many lives. -Gen. 50:20
And so from the rags of the prisons to the riches of the court of Egypt, at age thirty my son Joseph had suddenly become the second most powerful man in the known world. All authority of Egypt had been given to him, and he was subject only to Pharaoh. In addition to the power and status, the finery and wealth, Pharaoh gave Joseph the daughter of the Priest of On to be his wife. Imagine that, a gentile bride for my son.
Joseph immediately began collecting a portion of the abundant harvest Pharaoh’s dream had promised, and for seven years stored up mountains of grain in each of the cities of Egypt. He built huge warehouses to hold it all and before the seven years were up, they were stuffed to the rafters with more grain than he could measure. There was no spoilage during this time because wheat has an amazing ability for self-preservation. In fact, even in your time wheat from the days of the Pharaohs has been discovered in the pyramids and ground into flour to make bread just like the bread we ate back then, over four thousand years ago.
During this time Joseph’s wife bore him two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. Later I would adopt these sons as my own, and they would inherit Joseph’s portion of my estate. In doing so, I blessed the younger one first and so you think of them in reverse order, Ephraim and Manasseh.
Inevitably the seven good years came to an end and famine settled over the land, and not just in Egypt. The whole Middle East was suffering and soon the word got around that in the entire region, only the Egyptians had enough food to eat. This is because when the Egyptians ran out of food, they petitioned Joseph to open the warehouses and give they some of the wheat they had stored up.
Even though Joseph had decided to sell them the wheat and not just give it to them, soon not only the Egyptians but also people from all over the region were coming to Joseph to buy food. Pharaoh was becoming an extremely wealthy man. In fact, because of Joseph’s efforts Pharaoh would eventually wind up personally owning all of Egypt; its land, its cattle, and its treasure, plus all the wealth of Canaan. Needless to say, he was pleased with my son’s plan and rewarded him handsomely.
Meanwhile, back in Canaan my other sons and I were also feeling the effects of the famine. One day I got them together and told them about the wheat for sale in Egypt. I sent all but Benjamin down to buy us some. Since Joseph was in charging of the selling, my other sons had to come before him to buy what we needed. As they bowed down before him, the first of his dreams came true, but although he recognized them, they had no idea who he was.
Joseph pretended not to know them and accused them of spying. He threw them into jail for three days, and then had them brought before him again. They had told him that there used to be twelve brothers, but that one had died and the other was still at home. To prove they weren’t spies, Joseph made them return to Canaan with the food they were buying and bring Benjamin back. He ordered that one of them would have to remain in jail there to guarantee the others’ return. They didn’t think he could understand them as they began to repent among themselves for what they had done to him, and for a moment it brought tears to his eyes. Then, having filled their sacks with grain, he ordered his steward to give them provisions for the trip back and hide the money they had paid in their sacks too.
So where ten had arrived, only nine left for Canaan, Simeon being bound in prison against their return. Along the way they began to discover the hidden silver until shortly after their arrival
It was obvious that all their silver had been returned. Sensing a trap, I was scared to death over the implications of this! Joseph was already gone as far as I knew, Simeon was a prisoner in Egypt and now they wanted me to send Benjamin down there too. It was more than I could do.
But soon the food they had bought ran out and we needed more. When I told them to get ready for another trip, they reminded me that unless Benjamin went with us, Simeon would stay in jail and they wouldn’t be allowed to buy anything more.
Finally, after both Reuben and Judah promised Benjamin’s safe return, I let them take him. We needed the food! I made them take some of our finest produce, honey, spices and nuts, and double the amount of silver to pay again for what they had bought the first time.
When they arrived in Egypt and sought Joseph, he had his steward escort them to his private residence and prepare a meal for them. Fearing the worst, they pleaded with the steward and told him about the mistake someone had made with the silver on the previous trip, offering to give it to him again. The steward told them not to worry, that he had received the silver, and that their God, the God of their fathers, had put the money in their sacks. Then he brought Simeon out to them.
The steward gave them water to wash with and fodder for their donkeys, and they prepared their gifts for Joseph’s arrival at noon. When he came home and received the gifts, he asked about me, and singled out Benjamin for a special blessing. Then he seated them at the table in the order of their birth, which astonished them. Once he was overcome with joy at being together with all his brothers and hurried from the room to weep privately, but they still had no idea whose company they had the pleasure of keeping. When the food was served they were astonished again as Benjamin was given a plate with five times the amount of food they got, but they all ate and drank freely with him.
And so my beloved son, having been rejected and betrayed by his brothers, cast into a pit, sold as a slave into Egypt and reported to me as dead, falsely accused and wrongly convicted, has come out of his prison to become the second most powerful man in the known world, responsible alone for saving it from certain destruction. In their affliction, his brothers have sought him, and in their repentance he has provisioned them. And now through the intercession of an unnamed servant they have been reconciled to him and all are seated together at his banquet table, although they don’t yet know him. It gets even better. See you next time.