All That God Does: Genesis 43:1-34

All That God Does: Genesis 43:1-34
Pastor John Weathersby
Sunday December 3, 20

Notes, not at Transcript:

This morning, we continue with our theme of Sovereignty in Joseph’s life and dealings, and now with his brothers – we see God in control, and we see Him giving restoration to the family while doing His sovereign will. We see him as a loving and compassionate God.

Genesis 43:1-34 (ESV)
1 Now the famine was severe in the land.
2 And when they had eaten the grain that they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go again, buy us a little food.”

They’d been given provisions with the donkeys they brought – these would last a while. Jacob sent his ten sons initially with donkeys to buy grain. Certainly, they had enough donkeys and sacks to come back with provisions to last quite a while. They whittled down too little provision. Perhaps they’re looking at the food, considering the calendar, and things have reached a tipping point. Also, don’t let this detail pass you by. Simeon is bound in prison.

One of Jacob’s sons is in Jail, but he isn’t concerned – only for the sons he had with Rachel does he seem to have a concern so much so that they sit around and eat the provisions they have while Simeon sits in jail, having been bound and taken before his nine brothers. And so now that the supply is low, as though nothing had happened and suggesting they head down to Karns, he says, “Go again, buy us a little food.” This seems almost unhinged. “A little food,” there is a famine. “go again,” they were told not to come back unless they had Benjamin. So Judah reacts:

3 But Judah said to him, “The man solemnly warned us, saying, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.’
4 If you will send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food.
5 But if you will not send him, we will not go down, for the man said to us, ‘You shall not see my face, unless your brother is with you.’ ”

They’re ending the truth of Pharoah’s dream as revealed and interpreted by Joseph in Genesis 41:30–31

Genesis 41:30–31 (ESV)
30 but after them there will arise seven years of famine, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt. The famine will consume the land,
31 and the plenty will be unknown in the land by reason of the famine that will follow, for it will be very severe.

So, Judah, Leah’s 4th brother and son, stands up and reminds their father that they cannot return without Benjamin. Usually, we’ve seen Jacob ask something of his sons, and they do it. I.e., he told them the first time, Genesis 42:1-9 to get grain because they were starving. In Genesis 38:12-28 he told Joseph to check on his brothers. We feel not resistance but a total unwillingness to participate in what Jacob asks unless it’s according to what the nine brothers were told to do to a) free their jailed brother Simeon and b) show their integrity, recall the integrity test:

Genesis 42:1-9 (ESV)
Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt
1 When Jacob learned that there was grain for sale in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you look at one another?”
2 And he said, “Behold, I have heard that there is grain for sale in Egypt. Go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die.”
3 So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt.
4 But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with his brothers, for he feared that harm might happen to him.
5 Thus the sons of Israel came to buy among the others who came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan.
6 Now Joseph was governor over the land. He was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground.
7 Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them. “Where do you come from?” he said. They said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.”
8 And Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him.
9 And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed of them. And he said to them, “You are spies; you have come to see the nakedness of the land.”

Genesis 38:12-28 (ESV)
12 In the course of time the wife of Judah, Shua’s daughter, died. When Judah was comforted, he went up to Timnah to his sheepshearers, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite.
13 And when Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep,”
14 she took off her widow’s garments and covered herself with a veil, wrapping herself up, and sat at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she had not been given to him in marriage.
15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face.
16 He turned to her at the roadside and said, “Come, let me come in to you,” for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. She said, “What will you give me, that you may come in to me?”
17 He answered, “I will send you a young goat from the flock.” And she said, “If you give me a pledge, until you send it—”
18 He said, “What pledge shall I give you?” She replied, “Your signet and your cord and your staff that is in your hand.” So he gave them to her and went in to her, and she conceived by him.
19 Then she arose and went away, and taking off her veil she put on the garments of her widowhood.
20 When Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite to take back the pledge from the woman’s hand, he did not find her.
21 And he asked the men of the place, “Where is the cult prostitute who was at Enaim at the roadside?” And they said, “No cult prostitute has been here.”
22 So he returned to Judah and said, “I have not found her. Also, the men of the place said, ‘No cult prostitute has been here.’”
23 And Judah replied, “Let her keep the things as her own, or we shall be laughed at. You see, I sent this young goat, and you did not find her.”
24 About three months later Judah was told, “Tamar your daughter-in-law has been immoral. Moreover, she is pregnant by immorality.” And Judah said, “Bring her out, and let her be burned.”
25 As she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law, “By the man to whom these belong, I am pregnant.” And she said, “Please identify whose these are, the signet and the cord and the staff.”
26 Then Judah identified them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not know her again.
27 When the time of her labor came, there were twins in her womb.
28 And when she was in labor, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.”

Genesis 42:18–20 (ESV)
18 On the third day Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God:
19 if you are honest men, let one of your brothers remain confined where you are in custody, and let the rest go and carry grain for the famine of your households,
20 and bring your youngest brother to me. So your words will be verified, and you shall not die.” And they did so.

This was a tense scene. Remember how terrified they were by all this? They were scared because “the man of the land” spoke roughly to them, as we see in Genesis 42:7, and as they recounted to their father in Genesis 42:30. In verses 9 and 14, he called them spies. In verse 16, he said, let your words be tested to see if there is truth in you.

Genesis 42:7 (ESV)
7 Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them. “Where do you come from?” he said. They said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.”

Genesis 42:30 (ESV)
30 “The man, the lord of the land, spoke roughly to us and took us to be spies of the land.

6 Israel said, “Why did you treat me so badly as to tell the man that you had another brother?”

Jacob, who pretended to be Esau, named heel grabber as Esau notes in Genesis 27:36, asks, why did you tell the WHOLE truth? You could have withheld. Interesting reflection on all that Joseph was doing. If they’d lied, he wouldn’t have needed to test their integrity any further for the return of Benjamin and the jailing of Simeon – he’d know they’re the identical old deceptive brothers who’d sold him into slavery.

Genesis 27:36 (ESV)
36 Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?”

7 They replied, “The man questioned us carefully about ourselves and our kindred, saying, ‘Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother?’ What we told him was in answer to these questions. Could we in any way know that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down’?”
8 And Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, both we and you and also our little ones.

On an interesting note here, Jacob’s waiting out the situation, and the boys may give him the confidence he needs. Remember, previously, he’d sent Joseph out to find the Brothers. He didn’t know what happened, but he likely never quite trusted the boys who happened upon his son’s bloody coat. Now he’ll get leverage he needs to be okay with sending Benjamin.

9 I will be a pledge of his safety. From my hand, you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever.

The offer from Ruben in Genesis 42:37 wasn’t enough:

Genesis 42:37 (ESV)
37 Then Reuben said to his father, “Kill my two sons if I do not bring him back to you. Put him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you.”

This is interesting if we think of the sons and their actions. #1 in age, Ruben was involved in incest in Genesis 35:22, Simeon and Levi #2 and #3 pulled the circumcise and attack trick; next up in age is Judah. We know Judah has some baggage too, from Genesis 38 – however, from here, we know that Judah’s line will create King David, and through Perez, the Messiah Jesus The Christ the Lion of the tribe of Judah: Revelation 5:5

Genesis 35:22 (ESV)
22 While Israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine. And Israel heard of it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve.

Revelation 5:5 (ESV)
5 And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

And so, Judah continues:

10 If we had not delayed, we would have returned twice.”


11 Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be so, then do this: take some of the choice fruits of the land in your bags, and carry a present down to the man, a little balm and a little honey, gum, myrrh, pistachio nuts, and almonds.
12 Take double the money with you. Carry back with you the money returned in your sack’s mouth. Perhaps it was an oversight.
13 Take also your brother, and arise, go again to the man.
14 May God Almighty grant you mercy before the man, and may he send back your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.”

Israel waited till the last minute, with famine coming, his son Simon in Jail, and the food supply dwindling. He tried to get the boys to go back and buy from a store despite their warnings, which they told him about. So now, on Judah’s pledge to secure Benjamin’s safety, he sends his son off.

Joseph does what he can to sweeten the pot; he sends them gifts and new money plus that returned to them the first time. He asks that God give them mercy and that Benjamin comes back. Let me point something out: he didn’t say ANYTHING about Simeon, who has been in jail this entire time. He’s cold.

15 So the men took this present, and they took double the money with them, and Benjamin. They arose and went down to Egypt and stood before Joseph.
16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, “Bring the men into the house, and slaughter an animal and make ready, for the men are to dine with me at noon.”
17 The man did as Joseph told him and brought the men to Joseph’s house.
18 And the men were afraid because they were brought to Joseph’s house, and they said, “It is because of the money, which was replaced in our sacks the first time, that we are brought in, so that he may assault us and fall upon us to make us servants and seize our donkeys.”

Again, we recall that the brothers are terrified, feeling vulnerable because they are. They’re called into the leader’s home to appear before him after their journey. They think it’s because, on their last trip out, they left with their money still and hadn’t truly bought the grain. They bring it up at the first opportunity, trying to get out of this situation they’re in. I am sure that Judah was particularly interested in finding a way through this situation:

19 So they went up to the steward of Joseph’s house and spoke with him at the door of the house,
20 and said, “Oh, my lord, we came down the first time to buy food.
21 And when we came to the lodging place we opened our sacks, and there was each man’s money in the mouth of his sack, our money in full weight. So we have brought it again with us,
22 and we have brought other money down with us to buy food. We do not know who put our money in our sacks.”
23 He replied, “Peace to you, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has put treasure in your sacks for you. I received your money.” Then he brought Simeon out to them.

They bring up the money, and the servant answers them; this is particularly interesting. The servant answers a traditional Hebrew greeting and claiming gesture in Hebrew. This Egyptian encouraged them that the God of their father was behind all that was happening.

24 And when the man had brought the men into Joseph’s house and given them water, and they had washed their feet, and when he had given their donkeys fodder,
25 they prepared the present for Joseph’s coming at noon, for they heard that they should eat bread there.

They’re getting gifts together, including those excellent pistachios, and preparing for Joseph to come. However, they still don’t know its Joseph, their brother.

26 When Joseph came home, they brought into the house to him the present that they had with them and bowed down to him to the ground.
27 And he inquired about their welfare and said, “Is your father well, the old man of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?”
28 They said, “Your servant our father is well; he is still alive.” And they bowed their heads and prostrated themselves.

The brothers may think this is an idle gesture of politeness. They’d told them about their father on visit 1; maybe they felt he was asking to be polite. He’ll see his brother by the same mother shortly.

29 And he lifted up his eyes and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, “Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me? God be gracious to you, my son!”
30 Then Joseph hurried out, for his compassion grew warm for his brother, and he sought a place to weep. And he entered his chamber and wept there.
31 Then he washed his face and came out. And controlling himself he said, “Serve the food.”

Until now, Joseph couldn’t be sure he’d ever see his brother by the same mother again. Also, I do find myself wondering if Simeon is still in jail, but we continue. An exciting thing is coming that caps the complete circle restoration for me with the brothers and their nature/character.

32 They served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians could not eat with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians.

Let’s get the “Him”, “Them”, and “Themselves” straight here because it matters. They served him (Joseph) by himself. He’s the pharaoh secondhand, I get it. Next, the brothers together, then finally, the Egyptians of the household themselves. This sets up something for the brothers.

This is ceremonious. The brothers, separate from the Egyptians, are stilling before Joseph. He is watching as they’re served. One. Last. Test…

 33 And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth. And the men looked at one another in amazement.
34 Portions were taken to them from Joseph’s table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs. And they drank and were merry with him.

In birthright order, Joseph sets up room for contention. Everyone is served a portion, from oldest to next to youngest, one for you, one for him, one for you, one for him, one for you, one for him, one for you, one for him, one for you, five for him (that was the pistachios). And so it continues. Benjamin gets 5x his older brothers, which happens in verse 34b; they drink and are merry with him.

Look at the healing the God did. Was it comfortable? No. Was it immediate? No. Was it smooth for the people involved? No. Were God’s purposes for it all severed? Yes. And in it, we see the sovereign hand of God as we look at all that HE did. Even though sometimes God uses the pagans to remind them, they’ll see God in this.

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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