TODAY’S SCRIPTURE: Genesis 43:1-10 (NRSV*)
Now the famine was severe in the land. And when they had eaten up the grain that they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go again, buy us a little more food.” But Judah said to him, “The man solemnly warned us, saying, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.’ If you will send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food; but if you will not send him, we will not go down, for the man said to us, ‘You shall not see my face, unless your brother is with you.’” Israel said, “Why did you treat me so badly as to tell the man that you had another brother?” They replied, “The man questioned us carefully about ourselves and our kindred, saying, ‘Is your father still alive? Have you another brother?’ What we told him was in answer to these questions. Could we in any way know that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down’?” Then Judah said to his father Israel, “Send the boy with me, and let us be on our way, so that we may live and not die—you and we and also our little ones. I myself will be surety for him; you can hold me accountable for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever. If we had not delayed, we would now have returned twice.”
AN IMAGINARY JOURNAL ARTICLE
This is a choice a parent should never have to make. If I do not send Benjamin with his brothers, we will be given no grain. And Simeon and whatever sons I do send will probably be killed as spies. But if I do send Benjamin, what assurances do I have that I will ever see his face again? None! When I lost Joseph, I thought I would die. And I still miss him every day of my life. But when Rachel, after all these years, was able to have another child, my heart was made happy again. How could this be happening? If I do not send Benjamin, surely we will all starve to death. This overseer my boys met in Egypt must be a hard man indeed to force an old father to make such a choice. Because I know that if I do not send Benjamin, he will die anyway. With no food, there is no hope. All my children, along with their wives and children, will die. And so I know the choice I must make. God help me.
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT…
- Why does Jacob ask his sons to return to Egypt?
- Why does Judah remind his father of the terms they agreed to when returning to Egypt?
- Do you think Jacob does not remember the fact that his sons’ good reception in Egypt is dependent on having Benjamin with them?
- What do you think about Jacob’s accusation that this situation is a result of their mentioning Benjamin? How do you think this situation might have been different if they had not mentioned their youngest brother?
- In addition to Reuben’s offer of his own sons’ lives as guarantee for Benjamin’s life, Judah now offers his own life. Reuben and Judah were also the only two brothers who spoke up in defense of Joseph back in chapter 37. What does this say about these two men?
* New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.