Genesis 43 was part of my devotional from my ESV Bible past days ago. Genesis 43 is a story of what seemingly unfavorable situation turned into a very favorable situation. I didn’t realized it before until I read it as my devotional.
In verse 10, Judah complained to Israel his father about the delay of going down into Egypt and if there were no delays, they could have gotten twice more of what they first acquired. The first batch of sacks of grain they bought was 10. Since they tried to extend the shelf life of what they first bought, they were only able to consume 33% of what they needed. If they were able to go down into Egypt, they would have gained 30 sacks of grains all in all.
Few food.Famine.Unfavorable situation. Hopeless case.
In verses 11-14, there was audacity in Jacob’s decision to finally send all his sons he had left to Egypt again. Jacob hang on to Yahweh that there will be mercy and favor to be shown for Israel’s sons. And Jacob said that even if there was no mercy shown,even if there was no favor or no answered prayer (with regards with being shown mercy), “if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved”. For me that was audacious because he accepted whatever consequences whether the good or bad outcome. Jacob knew that all of the Egyptians don’t have fear of Yahweh but of course he did not know that there was Joseph, lord over Egpyt who greatly fears Yahweh. In short being audacious in making decisions is knowing and accepting the possibilities or outcomes whether with mercy or without it. So aside from trusting in Yahweh for the welfare of his remaining sons, Jacob sent of gifts: little balm, honey, gum, myrrh, pistachio nuts and almond nuts. I don’t know if Jacob had these things as left over from the seven years of plenty or whether there was still some small scale production left in the land. A little sidetrack, I have learned that pistachio plants and almond plants can tolerate droughts as long as the nut trees are established. And since the seven years of famine was only beginning in Egypt also in Canaan, I believe some nut trees still flourished. That is why Jacob was able to sent off these nuts to Egypt. But ofcourse grain crops needed a lot of water than nut plants. That is why they needed to go down to Egypt to acquire grain produce.
Few food. Gave what little they have. Unfavorable situation. Still trying to seek favor.
Jacob knew that egyptians don’t have the fear of Yahweh that is why Jacob thinks his son Simeon was dead. But of course, Jacob did not know that Joseph has still the fear of Yahweh despite living with the egyptians for more than 10 years. Having the fear of Yahweh acknowledges that Yahweh is both God and sole Avenger. That a person can’t lightly take the responsibility of Yahweh into his own frail hands.
In verse 23, Joseph lied to his brothers by saying he had already received money in the first transaction of buying sacks of grain. Isn’t it weird that Joseph who highly fears Yahweh and yet in this verse lied to his brothers?! And as I pondered on this, I discovered that Joseph wanted to show favor and love more than dealing with money. Joseph knew that even if it is the right thing to do (that is to accept payment), he deceitfully return Israel’s money because he knew that the famine will last for long time and it will make Israel’s household very poor. Joseph knew that someday, the egyptians will sold everything they have for food and Joseph did not want that to happen to his father’s household. For Joseph, it is important to save lives than to acquire a lot of money even if the situation for him is highly favorable that he could be more powerful than the Pharaoh. Though Joseph’s lips lied, the condition of his heart has still the fear of Yahweh.
Favor shown to the ones Yahweh love.
In verses 18 and 24, the rest of Israel’s sons were brought to Joseph’s house. At first they were afraid. And I don’t know what’s strange in getting invited in a high official’s house. Maybe they felt very little, ashamed and undeserving to be invited in Joseph’s house. That is why while they were in Joseph’s house, there attitudes are that of humility.
In order to be favored, one must be humble and obedient.
In verses 30-31, Joseph’ compassion for his brothers could no longer be withhold. Even if Joseph’s exterior look seems wicked and harsh (and he lied too), his heart was very soft and highly evident in his heart is his fear of Yahweh.
In the last verse of the chapter, Joseph held a feast to his brothers though he has not yet introduced himself as Joseph their brother. Almost all of the food given to his 11 brothers come from Joseph’s table. And that is favor. And greater favor was shown to his mother’s son, Benjamin which was five times more portion than the rest of his brothers.
Finally great favor shown by giving food portions. But this chapter is but the beginning of the many favors showered upon the household of Israel despite the great famine in the land.