SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Joseph continues to put his brothers through a series of tests to see if they had changed any over the past twenty years. He frames his younger brother so that Benjamin looks guilty of stealing from Joseph. Would his brothers discard Benjamin like they did him twenty years earlier?
- We see the concept of "divination" introduced here. There is nothing to imply that Joseph dabbled in occult practices. The passage just records what Joseph told his steward to say to his brothers. His brothers thought he was simply an Egyptian official. This was another way Joseph was playing the part and testing his brothers. Joseph was deeply devoted to God and said that "interpretations belong to God" back in Genesis 40:8.
- After Benjamin is caught all the brothers head back to Egypt, and Judah pleas to take his brother's place as a slave in order to spare his father of anymore grief.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- It's never too late to begin again. These aren't the same brothers who sold Joseph into slavery a couple of decades earlier. They've been transformed. Especially Judah. Judah was the same brother who suggested they kill Joseph and then suggested they sell Joseph and get money for him. Now he's begging to take Benjamin's punishment.
- It is significant that Judah stepped forward to take Benjamin's punishment. Years later, there would be another man who came from the tribe of Judah named Jesus. Jesus came and offered to be a substitute for the sins of his brothers and sisters (you and me) so that we might be free from the slavery of sin.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Are there any past sins in your life still holding you hostage? Judah has been carrying guilt around for two decades. It's obvious from his interaction with Joseph that it was a heavy burden. Don't let past sins cripple your future. Confess them to God and to those you've hurt and gain freedom from them. It's never too late to begin again!
- Benjamin's brothers - rather than deserting him - go back to Egypt with him. Is there a person in your life who has done wrong or has appeared to do wrong that you could support? Perhaps others have written him or her off. What could you do to encourage and support and stand by them in their time of need?