Food is scarce in the land, so Jacob sends all of his sons except Benjamin, Joseph’s younger brother by Rachel, to Egypt to buy grain. When Jacob’s sons arrive in Egypt, they are brought before Joseph. No one recognizes Joseph, and the brothers bow down before him, bringing to fruition the dream Joseph had many years ago. Joseph immediately recognizes his brothers, but he keeps his identity hidden as he questions them about their family. Then Joseph asks them to go and get their youngest brother, Benjamin, while leaving one of them, Simeon, in prison in Egypt until the brothers return with Benjamin.
When the brothers go back to Canaan and tell Jacob all that happened, Jacob refuses to send his beloved Benjamin to Egypt until Judah eventually steps in and says, “I myself will be surety for him.” Remember that it was Judah’s idea to take away Joseph’s life by selling him as a slave. And now, Judah is the one offering to take responsibility for Benjamin’s life. Judah knows what it is like to lose two sons and has compassion for his father, who already believes that one of his sons is dead. The Lord uses all the pain and chaos in Judah’s life to mature him into a man who is now willing to lay down his own life so his dad doesn’t have to bear the loss of another son, and to save his family from starvation.
So the brothers return to Egypt with Benjamin and bow down before Joseph again, as predicted in the earlier dreams. While Judah is pleading for Benjamin’s life in exchange for his own, Joseph can’t take it any longer. He weeps loudly and tells his brothers “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God.”
How is Joseph able to endure all that hardship?! He trusts the Lord, knowing that God’s plans aren’t always easy but they are always good! However, God’s definition of good isn’t the same as the world’s. Keep reading because tomorrow Jacob’s family moves to Egypt. (Genesis 42:1-45:15)