TODAY’S SCRIPTURE: Genesis 42:29-38 (NIV*)
When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them. They said, “The man who is lord over the land spoke harshly to us and treated us as though we were spying on the land. But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies. We were twelve brothers, sons of one father. One is no more, and the youngest is now with our father in Canaan.’
“Then the man who is lord over the land said to us, ‘This is how I will know whether you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take food for your starving households and go. But bring your youngest brother to me so I will know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I will give your brother back to you, and you can trade in the land.’” As they were emptying their sacks, there in each man’s sack was his pouch of silver! When they and their father saw the money pouches, they were frightened. Their father Jacob said to them, “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!”
Then Reuben said to his father, “You may put both of my sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back.” But Jacob said, “My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in sorrow.”
AN IMAGINARY JOURNAL ARTICLE
My brothers have left for Canaan, and Simeon sits waiting in a prison cell. After all this time, I’m just not sure how I feel about what has happened. I remember having those dreams as a teenager, dreams of power and influence, and I remember how I felt knowing that my brothers would bow down before me. All through the years in the prison, I remembered that feeling, and wished that it could come true. What did I want? Revenge? Reconciliation? When suddenly the dreams were fulfilled, and my brothers lay on the floor in front of me, it was almost overwhelming. I am a man of great power with responsibility for the greatest land in the world. And yet… seeing those faces after so long… I wanted to weep. If I had told them that I was their little brother Joseph, they would undoubtedly have rejoiced. But would they have been happy to see me, the boy they once so hated? Or would they have been happy to see someone in power who they could influence? I have to be sure of their motives before I reveal myself to them. How could I blindly trust my brothers when they have injured me so greatly? How can I forgive them for what they have done?
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT…
- Can you imagine the conversation between the brothers as they yet again journey to bring their father bad news?
- How would you have felt delivering the news to Jacob?
- What do you think of Jacob’s response to his sons?
- Why do you think Joseph is so interested in seeing Benjamin?
- Reuben offers the lives of both his sons to Jacob as a guarantee that Benjamin will not be harmed in Egypt. What do you think of this offer?
- What do you think the brothers were thinking when Jacob refuses to allow Benjamin to go to Egypt?
- Is Jacob willing to sacrifice Simeon in order to keep Benjamin safe?
At this point in the story, things are not looking well for Simeon. But never fear. “Exodus 6:15 provides a list of the offspring of Simeon, while the census accounts in Numbers list the clans and their total size for the wilderness period (1:22-23; 26:12). Simeon is also named as one of the six tribes who are to stand on Mount Gerizim for the blessing of the people once they enter the promised land (Deuteronomy 27:12; Joshua 8:33).”
The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, vol. 5 (Abingdon Press: Nashville, 2009, 258.)
* Holy Bible, New International Version, Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.