Family Reunion: Part 2
In Shakespeare’s masterpiece Macbeth, the title character murders King Duncan to fulfill his own ambition of becoming king of Scotland. Wracked by guilt and the fear of being found out, he is unable to enjoy his royal position. Ultimately, he falls into madness.
After three days in prison, Joseph presented his brothers with their test. One of them must stay behind in prison while the rest bring food back to their households. Then they are to bring the youngest brother, Benjamin, to Egypt to prove that their story was true (v. 20).
This harsh treatment was not what Joseph’s brothers expected. Why were they being singled out? Their minds immediately went back to what they had done to Joseph. Verse 21 makes clear that they all felt responsibility for the crime they had committed: “They said to one another, ‘Surely we are being punished because of our brother. . . .’” They vividly recalled Joseph’s distress and his pleading with them from the pit. How often had those words and that image come into their minds in the last twenty years? They had been living in their own kind of prison created by the guilt from their sin.
Joseph had been communicating to his brothers through an interpreter, and they did not know he could understand their conversation. Though he was deeply moved by their words, he was still not ready to confront them directly. His test of their character must continue.
Now Joseph’s brothers faced another difficult conversation, this time with Jacob, who demonstrated little sympathy for their plight. He was too focused on his own grief and loss: “You have deprived me of my children . . . Everything is against me! . . . My son will not go down there with you” (vv. 36–38).
APPLY THE WORD
In Psalm 32, David describes what it was like for him to live with guilt: “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long” (v. 3). But God has provided freedom from the prison of our guilt! “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).