The Restored Orchard

Deeper Roots – Genesis 42:1-22

photo of an open book on a tree s roots

A humbled and open heart is fertile soil for God’s seeds of wisdom to be planted. Deeper Roots is focused on analyzing God’s word to discover truths, values, and lessons for application to our lives. Periodically, a scripture or passage calls for further exploration, like Genesis 42:1-22.

When Jacob heard that grain was available in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why are you standing around looking at one another? I have heard there is grain in Egypt. Go down there, and buy enough grain to keep us alive. Otherwise we’ll die.”
So Joseph’s ten older brothers went down to Egypt to buy grain. But Jacob wouldn’t let Joseph’s younger brother, Benjamin, go with them, for fear some harm might come to him. So Jacob’s sons arrived in Egypt along with others to buy food, for the famine was in Canaan as well.
Since Joseph was governor of all Egypt and in charge of selling grain to all the people, it was to him that his brothers came. When they arrived, they bowed before him with their faces to the ground. Joseph recognized his brothers instantly, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where are you from?” he demanded.
“From the land of Canaan,” they replied. “We have come to buy food.”
Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they didn’t recognize him. And he remembered the dreams he’d had about them many years before. He said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see how vulnerable our land has become.”
10 “No, my lord!” they exclaimed. “Your servants have simply come to buy food. 11 We are all brothers—members of the same family. We are honest men, sir! We are not spies!”
12 “Yes, you are!” Joseph insisted. “You have come to see how vulnerable our land has become.”
13 “Sir,” they said, “there are actually twelve of us. We, your servants, are all brothers, sons of a man living in the land of Canaan. Our youngest brother is back there with our father right now, and one of our brothers is no longer with us.”
14 But Joseph insisted, “As I said, you are spies! 15 This is how I will test your story. I swear by the life of Pharaoh that you will never leave Egypt unless your youngest brother comes here! 16 One of you must go and get your brother. I’ll keep the rest of you here in prison. Then we’ll find out whether or not your story is true. By the life of Pharaoh, if it turns out that you don’t have a younger brother, then I’ll know you are spies.”
17 So Joseph put them all in prison for three days. 18 On the third day Joseph said to them, “I am a God-fearing man. If you do as I say, you will live. 19 If you really are honest men, choose one of your brothers to remain in prison. The rest of you may go home with grain for your starving families. 20 But you must bring your youngest brother back to me. This will prove that you are telling the truth, and you will not die.” To this they agreed.21 Speaking among themselves, they said, “Clearly we are being punished because of what we did to Joseph long ago. We saw his anguish when he pleaded for his life, but we wouldn’t listen. That’s why we’re in this trouble.”
22 “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy?” Reuben asked. “But you wouldn’t listen. And now we have to answer for his blood!”

Genesis 42:1-22 NLT

Our Deeper Roots passage in Genesis shows us that God allows us to walk through similar experiences to trigger repentance. Our scripture selection begins with Jacob getting wind of Egypt having grain. He calls out his son’s inaction in the face of famine and instructs them to go buy grain for the family. So 10 of the brothers set off to get provisions for the family while the youngest brother, Benjamin, was left behind. Jacob feared harm would befall his youngest son if he went on the journey. When the brothers arrive in Egypt, they go to buy grain from the governor of Egypt. Unbeknownst to the brothers, they are buying grain from the very brother they sold into slavery many years ago. In the exchange, Joseph accuses them of being spies which the brothers deny. They tell Joseph that they are brothers; the youngest one with their father at home, and another brother (Joseph)is deceased. So Joseph says that he will test their story by having them go to retrieve their younger brother and imprisons them for three days. On the third day, Joseph tells them to choose a brother to remain in prison until they return and the brothers agree. Reuben tells his brothers that this is punishment for their sins against their brother Joseph.

The very dreams that caused Joseph’s brothers to sin against him were being fulfilled. We don’t see everything that happened with the brothers as time passed, but we know that they’re years older and some still hold what happened to Joseph in their minds. As the famine strikes Caanan, the brothers were at a low point and unable to provide for their families. This desperation sets the backdrop for the reunion of Joseph and his brothers. Twenty years have passed since they’ve seen their brother, Joseph, so it’s easy to see how they wouldn’t recognize him, especially in Egyptian regalia. Joseph’s harsh questions and tone could be seen as vindictive, but one could look at them as a test of their trustworthiness. Remember the last time that he saw them, they were selling him off into slavery. The unfair accusations and imprisonment felt all too familiar for the brothers. As they faced punitive measures at the hand of their brother, they couldn’t help but reflect on their own guilt from years before. God used the imprisonment and accusations to evoke feelings of fear and guilt to push the brothers towards repentance.

There are seasons when we make sinful decisions that have lasting impacts. God takes those seasons as an opportunity to refine us. He uses those memories and emotions to trigger remorse. Not to have us living in shame or guilt, but to push us closer to Him. To cause us to turn from our previous actions; a true repentance. Whenever we walk through seasons that elicit strong memories or emotional responses, we should reflect and see if residual sin from previous seasons needs to be purged. The beauty is that God’s forgiveness, mercy, and love are waiting there for us. We simply have to turn around and embrace Him.

One thought on “Deeper Roots – Genesis 42:1-22

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: