Starving but Afraid to Return: Genesis Chapter 43

Photo by What What, Creative Commons

Read Genesis Chapter 43

To see the last post on Genesis click on: Everything is Against Me!


Genesis Chapter 43:

So time passes and the famine is still brutal in Canaan. All the grain they brought back from Egypt is gone. Jacob says to his sons, Go back and buy us some more food.

But Judah says, The man warned us, he said, You won’t see me again without your little brother. So if you’ll send Benjamin with us, we’ll go. But if you won’t, we can’t go, because the man in Egypt said, You won’t see me unless you bring your brother.

Israel asks, Why’d you bring this down on me, by telling the man you had a little brother?

They answered, He questioned us closely about us and our family. Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother? We just answered him. How could we know he’d say, Bring your brother down here?

Then Judah says to Israel his father, Send the boy with me and we’ll leave right away, so we and you and our kids can live and not die from the famine. I guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I don’t bring him back, I’ll bear the blame all my life. If we hadn’t waited, we could have been there and back twice by now.

Then their father Israel says, If this is how it has to be then do this: Pack up some of the best we have and take them to the man as a gift — some balm, and honey, and spices, and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds. And take twice the amount of silver with you, because you have to return the silver that was put back into your sacks. Maybe it was a mistake. Take your brother too, and go back to the man at once. And may God Almighty grant you mercy before the man so he’ll allow your other brother and Benjamin to come back with you. As for me, if I’m bereaved, I’m bereaved.

So they gather up the gifts and double the amount of silver, and their brother Benjamin. They hurry to Egypt and present themselves to Joseph. When Joseph sees Benjamin with his brothers, he tells his steward, Take these men to my house, slaughter an animal and prepare a meal for us; they’ll eat with me at noon.

The man does as Joseph tells him and takes them to Joseph’s house. Now his brothers were frightened when they were taken to his house. They thought to themselves, We were taken here because of the silver that was put back into our sacks the first time. He wants to overpower us and take us as slaves and take our donkeys.

So they approach Joseph’s steward and speak with him at the entrance to the house. Excuse us lord, they say, when we came down here the first time to buy food, on our way home we stopped for the night, opened our sacks, and each of us found his silver — the precise amount — in the mouth of his sack. So we brought it back with us this time. We also brought additional silver to buy food. We don’t know who put the silver in our sacks.

It’s OK, the steward says. Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, gave you treasure in your sacks; I received your silver. Then he brought Simeon out to them.

The steward took them into Joseph’s house, he gave them water to wash their feet, and he provided food for their donkeys. The brothers prepared their gifts for when Joseph would arrive at noon, because they heard they would be eating there.

So Joseph comes out, they present their gifts to him, and they bow down to him to the ground. He asks them how they’re doing, and he asks, How’s your aged father you told me about? Is he still alive?

They answer, Yes, he’s alive and well. And they bowed down, prostrating themselves before him.

As Joseph looks around he see his brother Benjamin, his own mother’s son. He asks, Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about? And he says, God be gracious to you, my son. Joseph is overcome with emotion at the sight of his brother so he hurries out and looks for a place to weep. He goes into his private room and he weeps there.

This is the first of two occasions when Joseph weeps over his brothers. Jesus also wept for the descendants of Joseph’s brothers, the Jews, on two occasions: once at the tomb of His friend Lazarus, and once over His people in the City of Jerusalem. (John 11:35, Luke 19:41)

After he collects himself, he washes his face and comes back out. Then he gives the order, Serve the food.

They serve him by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians eating with them by themselves, because Egyptians couldn’t eat with Hebrews, it was detestable to them. The brothers are seated in order of their ages, from oldest to youngest, and they look at each other in amazement. The portions are dished out, and Benjamin’s is five times as much as anyone else’s. So they feast, and drink freely with Joseph.


Returning to Our Joseph:

So Jacob and his family are hanging around, subsisting on the food they had from their first trip. Of course the inevitable happens and they run out, but Jacob and his sons are afraid to go back to Joseph. Jacob thinks it’ll cost him something, something dear to him — Benjamin.

That’s how it is with many of you. You’ve been to your Joseph, who is Jesus. You’ve received from Him the bread of life and the way of salvation. And you’ve been hanging out all this time subsisting on what you received from Him previously. The only thing is, as it was with Jacob, what you received from before doesn’t last forever. Oh, your salvation does, of course. But you, and I, all of us, need to go to Jesus for nourishment, regularly. Not doing so is the same as if you stopped eating. You’ll become spiritually lean. You’ll lose strength — the strength of your relationship with Jesus will weaken. Your soul needs to receive from Jesus in His house, even as Joseph’s brothers received from Joseph in his house.

What’s striking is how we’re just like Jacob, we’re afraid of what it will cost. There’s those things you’re hanging onto that you think you’ll lose if you return to your Joseph, who is Jesus: sleep on Sunday morning, or time with friends, or ESPN time, or time on the internet, or time devoted to your thing. There’s those things I’m clinging to, that I think I’ll lose if I draw closer in my relationship with Jesus: success at work, or time to exercise, or time to recreate. The fear of losing Benjamin kept Jacob from moving in a direction toward Joseph. Your fear of losing your thing keeps you from moving in a direction closer to Jesus.

But in reality, the best thing possible for Jacob was for he and his family to return to Joseph. And the best thing possible for you and your family, and for me and mine is to return to Jesus. As it was with Jacob, what you’re afraid of losing is a false perception.

After Jacob returned to Joseph, imagine how badly he must have wished he had done so sooner. All those wasted years without his son Joseph, and without the provision and multiplied blessings that came when Jacob and his family came together with him in Egypt. Instead of losing another son, he gained back two. And he was blessed beyond anything that would have happened had he stayed away.

So return to Him.

You’re only losing if you stay away.

You’ll be gaining great blessings if you return.

After you come back, like Jacob, you’ll wish you had done so sooner.

Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

Jesus Christ, John 6:27


Bible Gateway

Blue Letter Bible

Jon Courson


8 Comments on “Starving but Afraid to Return: Genesis Chapter 43

  1. Pingback: What Does God Want?: Genesis 44 | bennett's blog

  2. Excellent post Kurt. I love the story of Joseph and wrote a post about it a while back. This was great with a very good message. Thank you

  3. In studying Genesis 43, I like to draw upon these scriptures from far-away past to elucidate the current and future events in our generation. By the Almighty’s design, all these things had to happen to reveal that the previous dreams Joseph had as a young man were indeed prophetic, and of necessity in order to relate what was going to happen in the future.

    Our Creator continually works in our lives for good by using difficult circumstances–family division, plucking up one from a household, like Joseph, to be Set-apart, then sent away, incarcerated in Egypt (the world) while the others in the family are against that one because of jealousy towards Father’s favorite! Anyone experience that?

    Shortly after I began to write the previous paragraph, a dear sister in Messiah called me from the East coast and was quite distraught. She and Mom had traveled from AZ, having put belongings in storage, to travel to New England to see if they could re-settle there with family; 87 year old Mom wanted to be with her children. My friend is a Believer, her syblings are not; they treated her in the most evil way they could, so as to get the point across that she was not welcomed in their homes and she should leave (of course, Mom could stay). Timely for me to write this, eh? It ministered to her, comforting her as a “beloved” child of God, and yet loathed through the workings of the Adversary who hates her for that very reason. The Holy Spirit, the Set-Apart Spirit of the Living God, comforted her in her grief stricken moment and encouraged her to dry her tears and move on for Him separating from evil! Anyone experience that?

    The famine (represented in Joseph’s dream with the wheat stalks) HAD to occur in order that potentate Joseph (Genesis 42:6) be revealed to his brethren, and for salvation from starvation to occur for many lives. We know that Joseph has numerous attributes which mirrored our Messiah’s life on Earth–little did Joseph know!

    The greater good that comes out of Chapter 43 is that Judah finally humbles himself before his father, Jacob, and insures the responsibility for the safety of Benjamin (son of my right hand), as he is surely feeling guilt about what he and his brethren did to Joseph. Also finally, Jacob turns everything over to trusitng El Shaddai, our Sustainer. He relinquishes his beloved Benjamin to Egypt, and as well as his incarcerated second son, Simeon (Shimon means reputation) all for the saving of many lives (their tribes), even risking the possibility of LOSS.

    With Simeon’s reputation being tarnished in Genesis 34 from the murder in Shechem, might it be poetic justice that he would be the one to sit in Joseph’s confinement in preparation for Joseph’s unveiling?

    Might history repeat itself for the fulfillment of El Shaddai’s perfect plan?

    Could world-wide famine occur again in our days in order that Messiah be revealed to His brethren, the House of Judah, while the House of Israel is scattered in Egypt (the world)?

    Could Joseph’s son, Ephraim, adopted by Jacob as his very own son (son of adoption/the grafted-in believers from a pagan wife), be temporarily incarcerated for the saving of many lives for the whole House of Israel?

    Certainly food for thought to chew on now while we can.

    Consider that when Messiah Y’shua returns and makes Himself known to His brother Judah, ALL the tribes will mourn, and Ephraim and Judah will become one household again! (Ezekiel 37:19)

    Over 42 years ago when my twins were born, I gave one of the twins the middle name of Joseph. I had no idea what I was doing; I wasn’t even saved. Didn’t know what that meant; never heard the Good News–grew up Catholic and left “church” at 16. Today, my son’s middle name has come to fruition. Joseph means “fruitful bough”. And that is exactly what he has become: 4 children, 2 grandchildren (and yes, that makes me a great-grandmother x 2). He is growing spiritually by leaps and bounds, like a fruitful bough, since he has been studying his “Hebrew roots” as a grafted-in Believer to the Olive tree of Israel. (Romans 11:17) The other twin’s middle name, John (God is Gracious). I’m blessed, how about you?

    Should we despise the day of humble/small beginnings? (Zecariah 4:10)

    • Irene,
      What a wonderful comment! Thanks for sharing the prophetic picture Joseph’s life paints of Jesus Christ, as well as your timely illustration about your sister in the Lord. Concerning experiencing jealousy as Joseph and your friend did, I think there are those of us who have, and those of us who will. I found that story struck a chord with me.

      Thank you for sharing!

      His richest blessings on you.

      • Kurt,
        I love Y’shua; I love His Word! He has given me the gift of Prophecy, and that is a “not for profit” gift. That gift is for edification, exhortation, and consolation to THE BODY of Messiah. That is what I do, for I must not waste the talent of writing that He has given me. Your scripture John 6:27 is exactly what I’m talking about….I work for food, and my food is to do His Will and share His Living Word! It is a joy and a privilege for a debt I cannot pay, as obedience is what honors Him. He doesn’t expect us to be “sinless”, rather perfect (tamim) which means mature. We MUST grow in grace and knowledge. Knowledge only comes by the reading of the Word on a continual basis, and studying to show oneself approved as a workman rightly dividing the Word. And even that cannot be accomplished without the “sword of the Spirit” which is a vital part of the armor. How else can we cut asunder the lies and deception of the enemy who twists His Word?
        Thank you for your encouragement! I’ve never blogged before this.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: