Genesis 43
Genesis 43 Kingcomments Bible Studies

The Second Journey to Egypt

Joseph and Benjamin together are a picture of the Messiah. In Joseph we see the suffering servant of the LORD, rejected and in this time glorified. In Benjamin we see the Messiah Who will soon reign in power and majesty (Gen 49:27), the Son of the right hand of the Father (Gen 35:18). The orthodox Jews expect the Messiah today, but only as Benjamin. The brothers have rejected Joseph, but they love Benjamin.

The most terrible thing for Jacob is not famine, but that he has to give Benjamin away. Forced by the famine Jacob and the brothers now have to bring Benjamin to Joseph, that means to unite Benjamin and Joseph. Judah, who urged the rejection of Joseph (Gen 37:26-27), now shows himself as the one who seeks the interest of his father and Benjamin. There is a work of restoration going on in him and the brothers. Jacob finally admits. First he arranges everything again to appease “the man”. Only then does he give the matter into the hands of God, the Almighty. Here we see for a moment the old Jacob again.

Yet there is also the remembrance of the mercy of God, upon which he wants to trust. We can entrust ourselves to this in the way we have to go; there is no other way. Sometimes we have to be forced to experience that mercy. Jacob thinks he loses everything, but he gets back everything and that to a greater extent than he has lost it. Thus is God’s way to bless us.

Reception in Egypt

They are on their way, with Benjamin. But it remains to be proven whether they go only because of hunger and therefore take Benjamin with them, or whether there is real care for Benjamin. When Joseph sees that the brothers have Benjamin with them, his heart opens further for them. He wants them to come to his house and eat with him. Joseph desires to bless the brothers, but all the benefits only make the brothers more afraid and suspicious. They don’t trust it. Again they try to calm their consciences by giving all kinds of explanations and apologies.

Then they hear from the mouth of Joseph’s house steward: “Be at ease, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks.” They already have been paid for what they want to buy, without knowing it. They are on their way to learn that no one’s own merit can provide for the need in which they are, but that everything is provided for by the grace of God. We must also learn that lesson and we must also repeat it at times.

Second Meeting with Joseph

When they arrive at Joseph, they bow down before him for the second time. Joseph does not ask for their money, but acts according to his own heart. He cares for them. The brothers think they should bring a gift now that they will dine with the viceroy. However, Joseph does not seem to pay any attention to the gift. In the same way, we too do not need to come to God with gifts if we think that by doing so we will please Him.

Joseph has said: “The men are to dine with me at noon” (Gen 43:16). Accepting this just like that goes too far for someone who is not convinced of his goodness. Even today it still applies to anyone who, out of false humility, refuses to accept the offer of the Lord Jesus: “Come; for everything is ready now” (Lk 14:16-17).

Joseph is not interested in their gifts, but in themselves. He asks about their welfare and how their old father is doing. With the question about their welfare, his father had sent him to the brothers more than twenty years ago (Gen 37:14). Their answer is that he is well. But is it true? In their answer they do not mention anything of the grief of their old father.

When Joseph sees Benjamin, he has to cry again. He secludes himself for this purpose. Sometimes it is good that others see our tears (Acts 20:19; 2Tim 1:4), but sometimes it is also good that others do not see our tears (cf. Jer 13:17; Lk 22:62). How much he would have liked to have made himself known! But the work in the brothers is not finished yet. In the same way the Lord Jesus deals with the woman at the well of Sychar in John 4. He does not reveal Himself directly to her either, but only after her conscience has come into the light (Jn 4:25-26).

Joseph controls himself. Although he has not yet made himself known, he shows through the arrangement at the table that he knows them and their history. This again impresses the brothers, who notice from this dealing that their high-ranked host possesses supernatural knowledge about their family relationships. They can only look at one another in astonishment. By giving Benjamin five times more than the brothers, Joseph tests their attitude toward Benjamin. Will they become jealous or will they grant it to him?

At the end of the chapter we read for the first time after all the sadness about cheerfulness. The brothers’ joy is not yet about Joseph himself, but only about what they receive from him.

© 2023 Author G. de Koning

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