Genesis 42: O Brother, Where Art thou

Genesis 42: O Brother, Where Art thou

Journey through the Book of Genesis with me.  The plan is simple. Read ONE chapter a day. Blog or journal 5* things you learned that you previously didn't know and ask 5* questions about the chapter that you'll ponder all week. Let's go!

** You'll probably learn way more than 5 things and have more than 5 questions about each chapter. That's totally fine. The more the merrier! 

GENESIS 42:1-38


QUESTION 1: What was Jacob’s real reason for not letting Benjamin go with his brothers?

QUESTION 2: How is it that Joseph quickly and easily recognized his brothers, but they didn’t recognize him?

QUESTION 3: What is Joseph’s purpose in initially being harsh with them?   

QUESTION 4: Is Joseph primarily seeking revenge or is he simply truing to test the brothers?

QUESTION 5: How young was Benjamin when Joseph was separated from him?


INSIGHT 1: 20 years have passed since the brothers last saw Joseph (Genesis 37:2 – 17 years old; Genesis 41:46 – 30 years old; Genesis 42:53 – 7 years of famine)

INSIGHT 2: Jacob may have been suspicious of foul play with his sons concerning Joseph, which is very possibly why he doesn’t let Benjamin go with them. He’s already lost his favorite son of his favored wife; he can’t afford to lose Benjamin too.

INSIGHT 3: The brothers could not have recognized Joseph because they couldn’t even fathom that he would still be alive. Besides that, Joseph was not only much older, but he would have assimilated fully into Egyptian culture. This means he not only didn’t sound the same (he spoke through an interpreter – v.23), but a man in his position would have been clothed in Egyptian regalia which would made him look nothing like what the brothers would have remembered.

INSIGHT 4: While the brothers bowed on their knees before Joseph, this dream-reel from decades earlier must have begun to replay in his mind, “We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” (Genesis 37:7). It’s a miracle that Joseph is able to maintain his composure as he witnesses the vivid fulfillment of his boyhood dream.

INSIGHT 5: Joseph may have been initially callous toward his brothers because he was trying to determine if they still had the same wicked attitude from decades earlier or if they had changed. With the introduction of Benjamin (Joseph and Benjamin were Rachel’s sons), Joseph needed a way to ensure they hadn’t done him harm, hence the 3 day imprisonment.

INSIGHT 6: Part of Joseph’s weeping, which happens multiple times over the course of the next few chapters is because he finally sees how God bent the evil intentions of his brothers to not only do good, but to preserve the Abrahamic promise.     

INSIGHT 7: Reuben’s “word” clearly meant nothing to Jacob at this stage. He had proven unreliable in his youth.

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