Advent Devotions from Good Shepherd: Genesis 37:23-28;45:3-15

josephJoseph (Karen Madigan)

Genesis 37 : 23 – 28; 45: 3 -15

23So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore; 24and they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

25 Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. 26Then Judah said to his brothers, ‘What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.’ And his brothers agreed.28When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.

3Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?’ But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence.

4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come closer to me.’ And they came closer. He said, ‘I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.5And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither ploughing nor harvest. 7God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 9Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, “Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. 10You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. 11I will provide for you there—since there are five more years of famine to come—so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.”12And now your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my own mouth that speaks to you. 13You must tell my father how greatly I am honoured in Egypt, and all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.’ 14Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, while Benjamin wept upon his neck. 15And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him.

Joseph was the favored younger brother. He reported on his brothers’ activities to their father (37:14) which did not endear him to his brothers. His brothers allowed their anger and jealousy to become so great that one day they sold him into slavery to some Egyptian traders.

As an oldest child, I must admit that there were times when we were growing up that I could have been tempted to sell one of my siblings. Of course, I never had an offer but, if I had, would my jealousy have gone as far as Joseph’s brothers? I like to think that it would not and that my love for my siblings would have overcome those more negative feelings.

In our passage, we fast-forward to a time of draught in Israel. Joseph’s brothers head to Egypt in search of food. Upon arrival, they find that their brother Joseph is a high-ranking official in Pharaoh’s household. This occasion could have been payback time for Joseph for the way that the brothers treated him all those years ago. Instead, Joseph forgave his brothers, bringing them to Egypt where they would have a place to live and food to eat during the years of drought. Joseph’s words to his brothers show how God worked in his heart and in the circumstances where he found himself, to provide for all of them. “Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good” (Gen. 50 :20).

During this season, let us pray for the strength to forgive those who we believe have wronged us. May this forgiveness be given to those of our families and friends who may have caused us hurt but who can become the greatest blessings in our lives.

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