What is This That God Has Done To Us? (Genesis 42:28)

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The first “test” that Joseph puts his brothers through is to send them back to Canaan and retrieve their brother, Benjamin. As his only full-blood brother, Joseph is probably most keen to see Benjamin and to make sure he’s still alive. If the brothers could sell Joseph off into slavery, it’s not too far outside of reason to think they could do the same to Benjamin, too.

So off the brothers go. The trip back to Canaan from Egypt is long, dangerous, and perilous in the middle of a famine. They have grain to bring back to their family, but on the way, they make a shocking discovery. The grain that they used to buy the grain has been mysteriously returned to their bags.

In their minds, this automatically makes them all thieves. To any jury, the presence of money and grain in their bags would indicate that they stole the food — a crime which may very well cost them their life during a period of famine.

Remember too that the accusation leveled at them by Joseph was that they were spies, and that the only reason they were in Egypt was to “spy out the undefended parts” (Genesis 42:9). The whole reason they’re going home to retrieve Benjamin was to refute that claim. And, with Simeon in custody in Egypt, if they fail to return at all, their brother will certainly die.

It’s a masterful test conducted by Joseph. Will they forsake Simeon to save their own skin? Or will they return, face the charges head on, and plead their case?

The real question circulating through their minds at the time though, is how the money actually got back into their sacks. They’re sure they paid for it; how could it have been returned? 

The only possible way that could’ve happened, in their minds, is by God’s divine justice. They assumed that the entire thing was punishment by Him to begin with, so the money back in the sacks is part of that judgment. 

It’s ironic that the brothers are now turning to God in the midst of their judgment. Joseph had told them about his dreams years ago, but they brushed it off as the arrogant ramblings of the youngest brother. Now though, when God’s actions affect them, they’re ready to acknowledge His hand.

I won’t presume to know when and where God acts. The very nature of providence is that we can only say, “Maybe God did this” (Esther 4:14). But one thing’s for certain, I would rather pay homage to God in the good times and bad, not just when it feels like we’re being punished.