“Realizing that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers said, “What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong that we did to him?” (Genesis 50:15)
It is not an unusual thing, when a patriarch (or matriarch) passes the family connections between looser resulting in siblings being less connected. Joseph’s brothers, those eleven, might have been a strong unit; but Joseph had not been a part of them for many years. Joseph’s life had taken a different course than any of them had imagined. Would those early tenuous years hold them together? Joseph’s brothers were not sure.
“So they approached Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this instruction before he died, ‘Say to Joseph: I beg you, forgive the crime of your brothers and the wrong they did in harming you.’ Now therefore please forgive the crime of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. Then his brothers also wept, fell down before him, and said, “We are here as your slaves.” (Verses 16 – 18)
I am reminded of the Epistle passage from last week, where Paul encourages the Christians in Rome to show love and care to each other. I imagine too that at least one of the passages this week may relate to the Old Testament passage here. With further reflection, I think of the family of God who should also show care and connection to one another.
“But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today.” (Verses 19 – 20)
Some of the biblical commentators I consulted allude to the fact that the Lord God has already judged Joseph’s brothers. And I respect and can understand their perspective on this. But Joseph’s comment that what was intended to harm him actually turned out to benefit all of them. Now, they may have not seen decades and generations down the road – not seeing that Egypt would turn from a sanctuary to a prison. Remember that what started as a relatively small family became the seeding of a great nation – the Israelite nation that for a long time took center stage.
That is often the way, beloved reader, what looks to be harm turns out to be good. But good fortune can all turn out to be bad luck. All we can do is trust in the Lord God that all things will work out as it is best. I can see that pattern in my life; the upturns and down turns take me to where the Divine wanted me. A bumpy at times, for sure. But I have never journey one millimeter of it alone!
“So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.” In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.” (Verse 21)
The Lord God spoke to Abraham that his descendants would make a mighty nation. Could this have been the first sign that while the promise and covenant sustained Abraham through Isaac and Jacob, the reassuring power was started to strain having been passed through the generations? Depending on the kindness and power of human might can sometimes dissuade our eyes, thoughts, and hopes from the Divine to depending on human ability. We can see numerous examples of that in our modern day. Ah beloved reader, that is a stream of thought that can lead us to diverse conversations and speculations. And I am not sure that is a path I want to tread today.
May you, beloved reader, trust in the Divine to lead you through whatever you journey is. And may you keep you sight and hope on the Divine; and be gentle with your fellow travelers. Shalom & Selah!