Family Reunion: Part 1
During World War II, Corrie ten Boom was arrested for hiding Jewish people from the Nazi regime. She was sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, where her sister Betsie died. After the war, she was speaking on forgiveness at a church in Munich where she saw a former prison guard. She later described seeing him: “Suddenly it was all there—the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face.” What would she do when seeing this guard face to face?
Joseph finally came face to face with his brothers after twenty long years. Undoubtedly, the memory of how they treated him came to the surface. But Joseph also remembered something else: the dreams that God had given him (v. 9).
Joseph—and the reader—must wonder at this point whether his brothers have changed. This chapter opens with Jacob urging ten of the remaining brothers to go down to Egypt to buy food because of the famine. But Jacob did not want to send Joseph’s younger brother, Benjamin, with them because “he was afraid that harm might come to him” (v. 4). Jacob was still heartbroken with grief over the loss of Joseph. He still had a favorite son who received preferential treatment. Did the brothers harbor resentment against Benjamin like they did against Joseph?
Joseph is in an interesting position to test his brothers. He recognized them at once, but they do not recognize him (v. 8). He is dressed like an Egyptian official, and surely, it never occurred to them that their enslaved brother could possibly be an important leader. Joseph devised a test for his brothers’ honesty and character: he has all but one put in prison, and they must choose one brother to return with Benjamin to authenticate their story.
APPLY THE WORD
This passage illustrates the tension and difficulty of forgiveness and reconciliation. Can Joseph trust his brothers? What would it take for him to do so? Participating in God’s work of forgiveness and reconciliation might require us to walk slowly toward someone else, trusting that God will provide the answers and healing we need.