Dr. Jack L. Arnold Equipping
Pastors International Genesis
Joseph: Man of Caution and Compassion
A. These two chapters give the reader insight into the
compassion of Joseph. These are some of the most dramatic chapters in the Book
of Genesis. NOTE. If a person can read these chapters and not be overwhelmed
with emotion, his sensitivity to the feelings of others is very shallow.
B. Literary critics in Boston, a number of years ago, voted by
secret ballot the story of Joseph to be the finest short story ever written. It
is great literature, but it is primarily religious history and designed to
teach spiritual truth.
II. JOSEPH: MAN OF CAUTION 42:1-38
A. Jacob Sends Ten Sons to Egypt to Buy Corn
(42:1-4). The scene shifts from
Egypt and Joseph to Canaan and Jacob. The famine had hit Canaan and the
survival of Jacob’s (Israel’s) family was at stake. Jacob sends ten sons to
Egypt to buy food but keeps Benjamin, his youngest son, home. Jacob was afraid
that Benjamin might be killed just like he thought Joseph had been killed and
this would have been a great blow to him. NOTE. The pattern of God’s plan in
using Joseph to preserve the Hebrew race during the famine and the removal of
Jacob and his sons to Egypt begins to emerge in detail. God was at work through
B. Joseph’s Ten Brothers Come to Egypt and Bow Down Before
Him, But Joseph Puts Them in Jail (42:4-20).
1. Joseph was the governor (prime
minister) of Egypt, and his brothers came and bowed before him (24:6). This was
a literal fulfillment of the dreams of Joseph (cf. 37:5-10), and Joseph
remembered the dreams (42:9).
2. Joseph recognized his brothers, but
they did not recognize him (42:7-8). Why did they not realize who he was?
First, 20 years had passed. Second, he would have had his head and face shaved
in accordance with Egyptian custom. Third, his dress might tend to hide his
identity to some extent. Fourth, his Egyptian language created a barrier and
prevented their suspecting anything. Fifth, he specifically made himself
strange to them (42:7).
3. Joseph accused the brothers of being
spies (42:14) and put them in prison (42:17). Why this harsh treatment? Joseph
was determined to test their true character and see if there was any change in
them. Perhaps he wondered if they would do the same thing to Benjamin that they
did to him. He demands that they go and fetch Benjamin to him (42:15).
4. After three days, Joseph tells them to
leave one brother in prison in Egypt and to go get Benjamin in Canaan and bring
him back to Egypt. They left Simeon (42:24) and loaded up with supplies. NOTE. Benjamin is about 30 years old at this
time and Joseph is 39.
5. Joseph lets them know that his actions
are governed out of fear for God (42:
NOTE. This should have tipped off
the brothers as to the identity of Joseph. Apparently this made no impression
on them. Their spiritual sensitivity was quite low.
C. Joseph’s Brothers are Convicted of Their Sin
(42:21-24). God used their circumstances
to bring to memory their evil treatment of Joseph some 20 years back. Having
been in prison for three days, they remembered how they threw Joseph in the
pit. They also remembered that they had sold Joseph to Midianite merchantmen on
their way to Egypt. The Holy Spirit brought them under conviction and they
began to feel guilty for their sin towards Joseph (42:21-22). NOTE. After 20 years their consciences are
awakened and they feel guilty about their sin. Time does not blot out sin, nor
has it any power over the conscience.
They genuinely repented of their sin and Joseph overheard the
conversation. Joseph was touched and began to weep. NOTE. Joseph had no revengeful spirit but was
ready to forgive. To revenge is human, but to forgive is Divine.
D. Joseph Gives His Brothers Corn and Restores Their Money
(42:25-28). When the brothers
discovered that the money of one had been restored, they were amazed and
afraid, and realized God’s hand was somehow in it (42:28).
E. The Brothers Recount the Story to Jacob
(42:29-34). They laid special
emphasis upon the necessity of returning to Egypt with Benjamin (42:34).
F. Jacob’s Unbelief (42:35-30)
1. As each son emptied his sack of corn,
he found his money returned. What a great provision from God!
2. Jacob was not impressed with God’s
works and went into a state of depression and unbelief. He took a complete
human viewpoint towards his circumstances, and said, “All these things are
against me” (42:36). He had a complete negative viewpoint because he had
his eyes on circumstances rather than God. He concluded that Joseph was dead,
that Simeon was about to die, that he would lose Benjamin forever and that
everything was working against him. NOTE.
He was totally wrong about everything and at that very moment, God’s
providence was working mightily for him. God’s plan was more evident now
in Jacob’s life than at any other time since Jacob first came to know him; yet
poor Jacob did not see it because he was looking at life from a human viewpoint.
The divine viewpoint knows that “all things are working together for good”
3. Reuben pleaded with Jacob to change his
mind about Benjamin and said he would offer his two sons if anything would
happen to Benjamin. But Jacob refused out of a selfish love for Benjamin.
NOTE. Jacob had a spiritual
problem and his selfish love for Benjamin was holding back the Divine blessing
of God. He was not ready to turn Benjamin over to God.
III. JOSEPH: MAN OF COMPASSION 43:1-34
A. Jacob Sends His Sons Again to Egypt But They Refuse to Go
Without Benjamin (43:1-7).
1. The famine became worse and the
desperation for food caused Jacob to send his sons again to Egypt (43:1-2). The
brothers refused to go without Benjamin, for they knew Pharaoh would not
sell them corn unless Benjamin was brought to Joseph.
2. Jacob fought the will of God and
complained at his sons for being so honest with Pharaoh’s governor (43:6-7).
NOTE. Jacob did not want to give
up Benjamin and tried to blame his sons for the circumstances. He wished
they would have lied a little and never mentioned Benjamin. Jacob’s deceitful
nature shows up, for when anyone is fighting the will of God they blame others.
B. Jacob Agrees to Let Benjamin Go (43:8-14)
1. Judah gave Jacob assurance that he
would protect Benjamin, for Benjamin was the key to life and death for Israel’s
family (43:8). NOTE. God used
hunger to change Jacob’s mind about Benjamin. God often uses severe discipline
to get His children in the center of His will.
2. Jacob suggested that a gift be taken to
the governor and that the restored money be taken back, for it was an oversight
3. Jacob finally yielded to God’s will,
and said, “If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved” (43:14). He decided
to let God be God, and what He wills, He wills. NOTE. Jacob came to the place of: “Not my will, Lord, but yours.”
1. Joseph commanded the head servant of
his house to bring his brothers into his home to dine. The brothers were afraid
because they thought something terrible was going to happen to them. They
thought that they were being accused of stealing money (43:18), and they would
be made slaves. NOTE. These
brothers thought twice when they might he made slaves but thought it amazing
when they sold Joseph into slavery. NOTE.
They were afraid and were thinking the worst possible things when
actually God was about to bless them mightily. To think negatively brings fear,
and most things we worry about never happen.
2. The brothers confessed to the head
servant about the money (43:20-22), hoping that this would get them off the
hook. The servant told them that he put the money in their sacks. The servant
in reality was only an instrument used by God, for he said, “Your God, and the
God of your father, hath given you treasure in your sacks” (43:23).
NOTE. Apparently Joseph had led
his chief servant to a saving knowledge of the true God.
D. Joseph’s Love for His Family (43:26-34)
1. Joseph dined with his brothers and
asked them many things. One of the most touching verses of scripture is verse
27: “Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spake? Is he yet alive?” How
he yearned to hear that his father was alive so that he might be re-united with
2. Then Joseph saw Benjamin and asked if
this was the younger son. Joseph pronounced God’s blessing on him (43:29),
and swiftly left the room because he was overwhelmed with emotion (43:30). He
went into private room and wept.
NOTE. A real man knows how
to weep, but notice that Joseph did it in private.
3. Joseph separated himself from the
Hebrews as the custom of the Egyptians was (43:32), and lined up his brothers
by their ages (43:33). The brothers were marveled, for they could not
understand why the governor was doing all this.
4. They ate and drank heartily, but Joseph
gave five times as much food and drink to Benjamin (43:34). Why? Joseph was
still testing his brothers to see if there was any jealousy towards Benjamin as
there was towards him in those earlier years.