Joseph’s Brothers Stand Together (Genesis 44:16)

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For at least some of the Narrative in Genesis, it seems like the brothers have been fragmented. Simeon and Levi deceived and killed the inhabitants of Shechem (Genesis 34), Judah had twins with his daughter-in-law (Genesis 38), and Benjamin was left behind during the first trip to Egypt.

In fact, one of the only times you see them acting as one was in their decision to get rid of Joseph, and even then, Reuben was still working against the group.

It’s noteworthy then, that in Genesis 44, you see a lot of “we” statements from the brothers.

In Genesis 44:16, after Joseph confronts them about the “stolen” cup, Judah speaks for the group: “What can we say to my lord? What can we speak? And how can we justify ourselves?…Behold we are my lord’s slaves, both we and the one in whose possession the cup has been found.”

It had to have been a little sobering for Joseph to witness this reaction. He’s giving them all a free pass to head home, and they decide, as a group, to stay with Benjamin.

Part of the reason is because they realize that their sins have finally caught up to them. In that same verse (Genesis 44:16), Judah says that “God has found out the iniquity of your servants.” He can’t be talking about the cup incident; Benjamin alone is “guilty” of that. 

The only reasonable conclusion is that the brothers see what’s happening to them now as a punishment for selling Joseph into slavery. And in that moment, they were united. Just as they are now united in their punishment.

The only possible hope that any of them have now is to throw themselves on the mercy of Joseph. They full prostrate themselves onto the ground (Genesis 44:14) and plead their case before Joseph (Genesis 44:18-34).

Isn’t that the same case with us? When we’re confronted with the reality of our sins — whether by ourselves or by someone else showing them to us — shouldn’t our reaction be the same? To throw ourselves on the mercy of God, demonstrating our change of heart and change of life from what created the sin in the first place?

We can only hope that God is as merciful with us as Joseph is with his brothers. After seeing their change and convinced that his brothers are no longer the same as they used to be, Joseph reveals his true identity.

The long-awaited reunion is finally here.