Monday, March 28, 2011

Genesis 43:24-34 Lunch at Joseph's

"The steward took the men into Joseph's house, gave them water to wash their feet and provided fodder for their donkeys.  They prepared their gifts for Joseph's arrival at noon, because they had heard that they were to eat  there.

When Joseph came home, they presented to him the gifts they had brought into the house, and they bowed down before him to the ground.  He asked them how they were, and then he said, 'How is your aged father you told me about?  Is he still living?'  They replied, 'Your servant our father is still alive and well.'  And they bowed low to pay him honor."

As he looked about and saw his brother Benjamin, his own mother's son, he asked, 'Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about?'  And he said, 'God be gracious to you, my son.'  Deeply moved at the sight of his brother, Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to weep.  He went into his private room and wept there.

After he had washed his face, he came out and, controlling himself, said, 'Serve the food.' (Genesis 43:24-31 NIV)

They served him by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews, for that is detestable to Egyptians.  The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest; and they looked at each other in astonishment.  When portions were served to them from Joseph's table, Benjamin's portion was five times as much as anyone else's.  So they feasted and drank freely with him."
Joseph's steward took care of the brothers, allowing them to wash up before dinner and providing food for their donkeys as well.  When Joseph arrives, they present their carefully arranged gifts and bow low to pay him honor.  (Once more they are fulfilling Joseph's dream about how his brothers would one day bow before him.)  After exchanging pleasantries, Joseph inquires about his father.  I imagine he must have been greatly relieved to hear that his father was still alive.

As for Benjamin, when Joseph finally gets a good look at him, he is overcome by emotion and has to hurry out of the room, or his brothers will wonder why this great man is standing before them weeping.  After controlling himself and washing away any traces of the tears, he returns to the table and lunch begins.

It is a nice touch that Joseph arranges his brothers around their table in the order of their birth.  Can't you just picture the look on the faces of the astonished brothers?  How did this great man know enough about them to seat them in this way?  I picture Joseph sternly concentrating upon his food so as to keep himself from laughing out loud at the questioning looks they were no doubt casting in his direction.

When Joseph sent Benjamin five times more food than the other brothers, I wondered if he was unaware that this might cause further jealousy between the brothers.  Then I realized that Joseph may have been deliberately provoking them a bit, in order to see if they are still resentful like they had been long ago when his father had given him a special coat.  No reaction from the brothers is recorded.  Apparently they were well satisfied with their own portions.  After all, it had probably been a long time since they had eaten such rich food in such quantities!

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