Richard Agee

Genesis 43: Ben-Yamin appears before Yosef in Mitsraim

Richard AgeeThe account of Yosef and his once-estranged brothers reaches a crescendo in Genesis 43, as those 10 return to Mistraim (Egypt) with Ben-Yamin (Benjamin), Yosef’s younger brother.

There are a number of parallels between Yosef’s life and that of Yeshua the Messiah in this part of the account.

At this point in the story, the brothers (except Simeon) have returned home and told Jacob the story of their time in Egypt, how they met personally with him, was interrogated harshly by him about their family situation, including the fact that the man had asked about their father.

They recalled to Jacob that they answered all the man’s questions honestly, including the fact they had a younger brother who was left behind in Canaan. They also told Jacob that the man said they would have to bring that youngest brother with them if they were to ever obtain grain from Egypt again. 

It is very curious that the second most powerful man in Egypt is asking them about their family. They had just come them for a financial transaction to get some food but the man had threatened to put them in prison as spies so they answered the man’s questions honestly. They had no idea that the man would command that they return with their little brother. Why did the second most powerful man in the world want to see their little brother?

Joseph knew who bound him, how wanted to kill him and who wanted to sell him. He knew which brothers worked with each other and how they divided themselves into smaller groups. These brothers were very cruel to him and now that he is the second most powerful man in Egypt, he returns it on them a bit.

Jacob, for his own reasons, didn’t want to send Benjamin with them to get more grain so there was a delay in their return to Egypt. For about a year they subsisted on the grain they had brought back from Egypt but once it ran out, the sons again reminded Jacob of their situation.

Judah tells Jacob that he fears they will starve to death if they don’t return to Egypt but they can’t return without Benjamin. They were not literally at the point of death, not necessarily in terms of food but in terms of keeping their business and livelihood alive.

Judah gives his father complete permission to take it out of him if Benjamin doesn’t return safely. Judah did not offer his sons, he offered himself. “Let me bear the blame forever.”

What is a surety? Turn to Prov. 22:26-27, which states, “Do not be one who shakes hands in pledgeor puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you.”

At this point, Israel decides to allow them to take Benjamin with them back to Egypt. Jacob advises them to take their grain backs back to Egypt and fill them with “some of the best products of the land …a little balm and a little honey, aromatic gum and myrrh, pistachio nuts and almonds” as a gift to the Prime Minister of Egypt.

At this point, they were two years into this drought. Jacob and his family didn’t know that the drought was going to last five more years.

This is at the beginning of the year and they were wanting to buy barley grain at the time of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. We see hints of God’s calender in Genesis, even before the 10 commandments and the laws of the Torah.

Jacob, as he sends them all away, including Benjamin and prays to El-Shaddai that he would release both Simeon and Benjamin. “And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.” The word that is translated in English as “bereaved” is shakal (Strongs H7921) which means literally means aborted, miscarried, childless. He accepts the possibility that he will lose both of Rachel’s sons.

The first time they met the Prime Minister, they met him in his office of authority, his palace. The second time they went to Egypt, they were invited to Joseph’s home. This time all 11 brothers were in Egypt. Joseph’s second dream is coming closer to fulfillment. All his brothers are bowing their knee to him.

They first meet Joseph’s steward at the door of Joseph’s house. They went to him to apologize for the mix up with the money in their sacks being returned to them. The steward tells the brothers, “Be at ease, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks; I had your money.”

Then they are washed up from their long journey and presented to Joseph directly. First they bowed before Joseph and when they lifted their heads, Joseph immediately notices Benjamin. He inquires about their father’s health and confirms that Benjamin is with them. Joseph was sent away when he was 17 years old and Benjamin was only an infant. Joseph would not have been able to recognize Benjamin who at this point was an adult.

The dinner was set up with three separate tables: one table for Joseph, one table for the Egyptian servants and one for the brothers. You eat dinner with your peers, your family, your equals, not your superiors. If you were invited to meet the Queen of England for a meal, protocol would dictate that you would eat at a separate table. It would be an abomination to break protocol by allowing all these groups of people to eat at the same table.
Joseph, the second most powerful man in Egypt would not be seen treating his servants or his foreign guests as his peers, his equals.

The word “abomination” is a very powerful word in English but it doesn’t have quite the same meaning in Hebrew. Prov. 6:16-19 tells us what else God finds “disgusting” and it has nothing to do with food. “There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: …”

There is a message behind the fact that he gave Benjamin 5 times the food and other gifts. I’ve heard that the number 5 refers to grace and favor. This was not because of anything Benjamin did that he earned Joseph’s favor. He didn’t earn it, Joseph gave it out of his heart just because of who Benjamin was.

 

 


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