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BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 26, Day 3: Genesis 43:15-34

Summary of Genesis 43:15-34:

The brothers did as Jacob said. They hurried to Egypt with Benjamin. Joseph invited them to eat with him. The brothers were frightened of this action. They thought Joseph was going to attack them and seize them as slaves and take their donkeys as punishment for the silver in their bags they did not pay the first time.

The brothers approached the steward in an effort to give the money back. The steward said it was a gift to them from God. Then Simeon was brought out. The brothers prepared for a meal and retrieved the gifts to give Joseph. When Joseph arrived, they gave him the gifts and bowed low to him. He asked them if Jacob was still alive, and they replied yes.

Joseph was very moved to see Benjamin. They were probably very close as brothers. He had to excuse himself to weep. Joseph returned, and the food was served. Joseph ate separately from his brothers because the Egyptians would not eat with Hebrews. Joseph sat them in the order of their birth, and the brothers were astonished. Benjamin got 5 times the amount of the others.

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BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 26, Day 3: Genesis 43:15-34

7) Joseph invited them to eat with him. The brothers were frightened of this action. They thought Joseph was going to attack them and seize them as slaves and take their donkeys as punishment for the silver in their bags they did not pay the first time.

8 ) The steward knows of their God/God/Joseph’s God. I’m wondering if this is because of Joseph’s position and if his story is known to others.

9) I think Joseph was trying to give them a hint, but the brothers missed it.

10) Wow. Too many to pinpoint. I would say everything in my life has led to this point and God continues to lead. It’s only fear if you perceive it as that. In my life, it seems everything is unexpected.

Conclusions BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 26, Day 3: Genesis 43:15-34

You think that when the brothers were seated in the order of their birth that they would begin to wonder what was up. That they would truly LOOK at Joseph and recognize him. It’s obvious that something is going on here, how Joseph asks after Jacob; how he invites them to dinner, etc. It’s a puzzle that I’m surprised not one of the brothers tried to figure it out. I bet Simeon doesn’t care; he is just glad to be out of jail.

End Notes BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 26, Day 3: Genesis 43:15-34

The brothers wonder why they are being invited to Joseph’s house. Still, they don’t put it together. Joseph mirror Jesus here in wanting us to eat (Revelation 3:20).

The brothers wanted to be transparent and do the right thing by giving back the silver. The steward said no; it is a gift from God. As promised, Simeon is released.

Joseph shows nothing but kindness to his brothers, again, like Jesus. The brothers bow down again like in Joseph’s dreams out of need, as well as honor and respect. We come to God in the smae way.

Perhaps he saw Rachel, his mother, when he looked at Benjamin.

Interestingly, the Egyptians would not eat with Joseph either, despite his status above them. Egyptians thought of themselves as gods and above all other societies. God, in His infinite wisdom, would use this as well. Because the Egyptians despised everything as foreign, including imports, they would have nothing to do with the people of God/Jacob’s family.

Jacob’s family would be left in peace to grow and multiply to the millions without intermixing with the pagan culture around them. This kept them safe from turning from God. If Jacob’s family had stayed in Canaan, this might not have been the case. God protected the Israelites, using Joseph to do so. Amazing!

The mathematical odds of getting the brothers’ birth order right was 1 in a million.

Joseph was testing his brothers’ hearts again, seeing how they would react to Benjamin getting more food, and seeing if Benjamin even made it to Egypt or he would be sold as well.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 26, Day 3: Genesis 37:12-36

Summary of passage:  The brothers (notice Joseph is conspicuously absent) were grazing sheep near Shechem when Jacob/Israel sent Joseph to check up on them and make sure all was well.

When Joseph arrived in Shechem, the brothers had moved on to Dothan.  The brothers saw him coming and plotted to kill him.  The mocked him by calling him dreamer and planned to kill him and throw him in a cistern and tell Jacob that a ferocious animal killed him.

But Reuben tried to rescue Joseph.  He suggested not to shed blood and just to throw him into a cistern and then come back later.  Basically, just to teach Joseph a lesson was his plan.

So the brothers stripped him of his robe and threw him into an empty cistern.  The brothers then sat down to eat their meal when a caravan of Ishmaelites appeared heading to Egypt to sell spices.  Judah (interestingly the fourth born and the one whom Jesus will come from) sees dollar signs so he suggests why don’t they sell their brother to the Ishmaelites?  They will be rid of Joseph AND have money in their pockets.  ALL agreed.

So the brothers pulled Joseph out of the cistern and sold him for 20 shekels of silver (note the obvious reference to Jesus here who was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver) to the Midianites.

Reuben who apparently was not there during all of this but where he went and why is uncertain returns to find Joseph gone.  He tears his clothes (obviously upset) and questions his brothers.

They took Joseph’s coat and spread goat’s blood all over it.  They presented this to Jacob/Israel who concluded a ferocious animal did tear Joseph to pieces.

Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned his son for days.  All tried to comfort him but he refused them.  Jacob wept.

The Midianites sold Jacob in Egypt to Potiphar, the captain of the Pharaoh’s guards.

Questions:

5)  Joseph went to the Valley of Hebron as instructed but not finding his brothers, he inquires of them and is told they went to Dothan.  So Joseph follows them to Dothan.  He is rewarded by being thrown in a cistern and sold as a slave.

6a)  Reuben and Judah

b)  Genesis 42 says that Joseph pleaded for his life.  I imagine he screamed at the top of his lungs.  He probably tried to reason with them, saying he wouldn’t boast any more.  He probably even tried bribes like giving them his precious coat or something.  I’m sure he asked why they were doing this to him.  I’m sure he shed some tears.

c)  This question to me seems to be justifying what happened to Joseph by drawing the parallel.  There is no justification for throwing someone in a pit, plotting their murder, and selling them into slavery.  Joseph did not deserve what happened to him no matter what sins he had committed (which weren’t that bad compared to murder and the like).

Joseph’s crime was boasting.  We suffer the same when pride rules instead of humbleness.  We are often blinded to people and things around us and our lives become self-centered instead of God-centered.

However, I submit that you can’t fault a 17 year-old kid for being prideful and full of hubris.  Especially if you compare to today’s society where 30 somethings never grow up and are the same way.  If anyone is to blame, it’s Jacob and Rachel who spoiled him rotten and created the discord between the brothers.  Joseph did not deserve to suffer.

d)  They were both stripped of their clothing according to the passages and they were watched over and guarded.

7a)  20 sheckels.  30 silver coins.

b)  He had been the favored, the special one, the coddled one, the one chosen to receive the birthright.  And now he’s a slave.  It must have been a huge adjustment.  Imagine your freedom and world gone completely and now you must do hard labor and answer to others.

c)  The same.  When bad things happen, we think God doesn’t care, that He’s turned His back on us and is allowing our suffering.  We often don’t equate it to future good for it is hard in the moment to do so.  We ask “Why is God allowing this to happen in our lives?”  We pray and wait.  That’s all we can do.

8a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I would say both.  There are other ways God could have chosen for Joseph to rise to be the number two guy in Egypt and save the lives of many people–many ways that did not involve suffering.  But Joseph did have to learn some hard lessons about living for others, being grateful, and turning to God always.

I think of Naomi and Ruth who lost everything but still believed in God.  They both had to do back-breaking labor in order to survive but in the end Ruth married Boaz and he provided for them both.  They had to have God at their center before good things happened.

Jacob had to work hard before he was able to return to the Promised Land.  He had to be taught hard lessons the hard way.  Moses killed a man and had to live in Midian for 40 years as a shepherd before God called him.  Job lost everything in a test of faith by God.

The Bible is full of examples where God inflicts us with hardships in order to grow us and our faith–not only for us but for those around us and in Joseph’s case for an entire nation.

b)  Joseph’s dreams were an encouragement for they told Joseph his family and Israel would bow to him.

Conclusions:  What was Reuben doing while the brothers dispatched Joseph?  Most likely he was trying to get them to move on so he could return unknowingly to free Joseph since no one else liked his plan.

Can you imagine the brothers sitting callously by, calmly eating their meal, while Joseph is screaming at the top of his lungs, pleading with them not to harm him and to let him go free?  This just shows the depth of the brothers’ hatred for their little brother, the effect Jacob’s favoritism had on them, and how deep the devil had twisted their hearts.

Also, their is no sign of remorse on the brothers part upon presenting their father with Joseph’s coat.  They are aloof, indifferent, and callous to the core.

How plausible is the excuse to Jacob that wild animals killed him?  What wild animals lived in Canaan during this time that could cause such a bloody death?  Lions, bears, crocodiles, and cheetahs used to roam ancient Israel.  So this is very plausible.

[Side Note:  When we think of lions, we think of the African lions that roar on the plains in Africa.  Few people know that there is actually another lion species, the Asiatic Lion, that used to roam Asia as well.  However, due to the Romans import of wild animals for the Gladiatorial fights, this species was decimated.  Due to man’s penchant for cheap thrills, most of the rest were eradicated with the advent of firearms.  There is now only a tiny population in a pocket in India and some in zoos.  Sad, sad, sad.  Man is capable of such good but he is also capable of such harm.]

[Side Note to the Side Note:  Many people don’t think of gladiatorial fights with wild animals.  But the Romans imported thousands and thousands of wild animals that included lions, elephants, tigers, cheetahs, etc to fight with the gladiators over hundreds of years.  The Romans virtually eliminated some species from the face of the planet. They inflicted so much damage (such as the Asiatic Lion) that these species still have not recovered.  And the people of Rome (not just the leaders) stood by and watched this slaughter week after week and even called for more.  Fascinating study if you ever get the chance.  But incredibly sad at how God commissioned us to care for the animals and instead we kill them off for no other reason than to watch them fall.  Probably some twisted heart within us that says ‘Better them than me.’]

It is tempting to think Jacob kept Joseph back from tending the flock because he wanted to protect him.  But by Jacob sending Joseph out into the desert by himself to check up on his brothers, this idea is proven wrong.  Joseph faced robbers, other men who would do him harm, as well as animals and the elements.  This shows to me that Joseph stayed behind because he wasn’t required to work like his brothers were–another example of favoritism shown.

End Notes:  In Leviticus 27:5, God sets the price of those dedicated to the Lord based on ages and those between the age of 5 and 20 (the age of Joseph) is 20 shekels of silver–the same Joseph is sold for.

Reuben is not the good guy here despite his show of tearing his clothes.  It would only have taken one brother to stand up and say, “This is wrong!” and it wouldn’t have happened.  Reuben complicitly and cowardly agrees in his actions when he left the scene. It usually only takes one person with the courage to stand up for what’s right and man’s inherent morals kick in.  But if no one does, then crowd mentality kicks in and chaos ensues (see this commentary on crowd mentality and Jesus HERE).

God fingerprints are everywhere here.  For example, the cistern was empty.  Normally, it would have been full of water but it wasn’t so Joseph would have been drowned.  That was God.

Hard to believe the Messiah came from Judah when we read Judah’s actions here. However, we are about to see how selling Joseph to the Midianites begins a series of events and circumstances that leads to the most powerful man in the world at that time–the Pharaoh of Egypt.  And only God can weave a web that intricate and create something that impossible.