The Youngest Test

In our series “Joseph: A Life with Many Colors,” the brothers have paid a visit to Egypt to buy grain.  They’re met with coldness from Joseph who began to test to see whether they are the same old brothers from Canaan or reformed men who had been worked over by God and time. The brothers had no idea they were facing any test, let alone by a brother who they thought was dead, and that the test would involve the youngest brother who was back home with Dad.

Genesis 42:14 Joseph said to them, “It is just as I told you: You are spies!  15 And this is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16 Send one of your number to get your brother; the rest of you will be kept in prison, so that your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If you are not, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!”

Perhaps all the brothers together needed time to confer and decide what to do.  Joseph gave them exactly that…mirroring what they had done in plotting his removal. A little role reversal, a tiny taste of what he’s been through.  But it’s not revenge…

Genesis 42:17 And he put them all in custody for three days.

Time enough to test their hearts and their motives. 

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 stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households. 20 But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die.” 

Think about it:

  • Why would Joseph want to see his youngest brother?  Might Joseph want to see if his father was still protecting one and whether there was resentment of this youngest brother, too?
  • How did time to think about it give the brothers’ consciences a good workout?
  • How do you suppose they decided who would stay behind and who would go to plead with Jacob to send the second, only remaining son of his favorite, now deceased, wife? 
  • It is strange that after three days, Joseph told them that if they did this, they would live because he fears God.  Why might that statement have been a surprise to the brothers?  Would they have expected a God-fearer in Egypt?  How might they have felt about that?
  • Fearing God was something the patriarchs did long before it was written, Deuteronomy 10:12 “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?”

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on October 21, 2019

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