Remember: It’s Darkest Before Dawn! (Genesis 43-44)

Heart of a Shepherd

Jun 02, 2023



Ricorda: è più buio prima dell'alba! (Genesi 43-44)


Lembre-se: é mais escuro antes do amanhecer! (Gênesis 43-44)


یاد رکھیں: طلوع فجر سے پہلے سب سے اندھیرا ہے! (پیدائش 43-44)


Помните: Темнее всего перед рассветом! (Бытие 43-44)


N'oubliez pas : il fait plus sombre avant l'aube ! (Genèse 43-44)


Recuerde: ¡es más oscuro antes del amanecer! (Génesis 43-44)


Denken Sie daran: Es ist am dunkelsten vor der Morgendämmerung! (Genesis 43-44)

Remember: It’s Darkest Before Dawn! (Genesis 43-44)

Scripture reading – Genesis 43-44

Genesis 43

The famine had continued in Egypt and neighboring countries, and Israel (once named Jacob) realized the grain his sons had carried from Egypt would soon be depleted (Genesis 43:1-2). So, telling his sons, “Go again, buy us a little food” (Genesis 43:2b), Judah, the fourth-born son, reminded his father, saying,  “The man [Joseph] did solemnly protest [warned sternly] unto us, saying, Ye shall not see my face, except your [youngest] brother be with you” (Genesis 43:3).

Judah stated plainly that he would return to Egypt only if Benjamin traveled there with them (Genesis 43:4-5). Jacob, frustrated with his sons, impugned them for revealing to the Egyptian ruler (Joseph) that they had a younger brother (Genesis 43:6). Of course, had they failed to answer Joseph’s questions honestly, the circumstances in Egypt would probably have gone badly for them (Genesis 43:7). Judah entreated his father for Benjamin. He pledged himself as surety should he fail to return (Genesis 43:8-9) and complained that they should have already departed for Egypt (Genesis 43:10).

Reluctantly, Israel (Jacob) accepted Judah’s plea and ordered his sons to bear gifts and double the money (supposing their money having been returned to them on their first journey was “an oversight,” Genesis 43:11-12). Then, with Benjamin in their company, Israel (Jacob) blessed them and resigned himself to the LORD, saying, “God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother [Simeon], and Benjamin. If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved” (Genesis 43:14).

Arriving in Egypt, the brothers “stood before Joseph. (16) And when Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the ruler of his house, Bring these men home, and slay, and make ready; for these men shall dine with me at noon” (Genesis 43:15b-16).

What thoughts and emotions must have swirled through the brother’s hearts when they were taken from the granaries to Joseph’s house? (Genesis 43:17) The answer is made known to us when we read, “And the men were afraid, because they were brought into Joseph’s house” (Genesis 43:18).

Knowing the story's outcome helps us enjoy the humor of the moment when Joseph’s brothers approached his steward to plead their case (Genesis 43:19-23). The steward’s response suggested the influence of Joseph’s testimony in his home, for his servant answered, “Peace be to you, fear not: your God, and the God of your father, hath given you treasure in your sacks: I had your money” (Genesis 43:23). The steward’s assurance was immediately followed by a family reunion when “he brought Simeon out unto them” (Genesis 43:23). How baffling it must have been for Joseph’s brothers when they, and their animals were given the “royal treatment” (Genesis 43:24).

Anticipating the arrival of the Egyptian ruler, Joseph’s brothers made ready their presents (Genesis 43:25). When he entered the house, they “bowed themselves to him to the earth” (a fulfillment of Joseph’s dream from his youth, Genesis 43:26). Through an interpreter Joseph asked concerning his father’s welfare. Again, they bowed to him (Genesis 43:27-28).

The dreams and visions of Joseph’s youth were being fulfilled as the LORD promised (Genesis 37:5-11). So then, when Joseph “lifted up his eyes, and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son” (Genesis 43:29a), he asked, “Is this your younger brother, of whom ye spake unto me? And he said, God be gracious unto thee, my son” (Genesis 43:29b).

No longer able to contain his emotions, Joseph rushed from the room and “entered his chamber, and wept there” (Genesis 43:30). (Remember, Joseph had not yet made himself known to his brothers. Instead, he had continued to speak to them through an interpreter and maintained the conduct and manner of an Egyptian ruler.)


Joseph then returned to his brothers and commanded that lunch be served. Now, knowing “the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians” (Genesis 43:32), Joseph was careful to dine at a table apart from his guests. He then commanded his brothers to sit at the meal according to their birth order. Perplexed and amazed, they “marveled one at another” (Genesis 43:33) as Joseph directed that Benjamin’s meal would be five times as much as their own (Genesis 43:34).

Genesis 44 – A Crisis and a Confession

When the meal ended, Joseph commanded his servants to fill his brother’s sacks with grain. Once again, he commanded “every man’s money in his sack’s mouth” (Genesis 44:1). Then, Joseph covertly made an additional request: that his silver cup should be placed in Benjamin’s grain sack (Genesis 44:2).

The brothers set out on their journey and were soon overtaken by Joseph’s steward, who accused them, saying, “Wherefore have ye rewarded evil for good?” (Genesis 44:4)

The brothers protested their innocence (Genesis 44:5-8) and vowed, “With whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die, and we also will be my lord’s bondmen” (Genesis 44:9). A search was made, beginning with the eldest, until coming to Benjamin’s sack where the silver cup was found (Genesis 44:10-12). Then, overwhelmed by emotions, the brothers “rent their clothes, and laded every man his ass, and returned to the city” (Genesis 44:13) and fell on the ground before Joseph (Genesis 44:14).

To this point, Joseph continued to speak through an interpreter and confronted his brothers as such, demanding, “What deed is this that ye have done? wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine?” (Genesis 44:15)

Remembering how Judah had taken responsibility for his youngest brother’s care, true to his word, he confessed his brother’s sin saying, “God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold, we are my lord’s servants, both we, and he also with whom the cup is found” (Genesis 44:16). Joseph prolonged his brothers’ agony, vowing that Benjamin would be his servant (Genesis 44:17), and sending them away to their father.

Judah approached Joseph humbly and pled for him to consider the grief his father would suffer should Benjamin not return. He reminded the Egyptian ruler (Joseph) that their father had lost one son whom he presumed was dead (referring to Joseph, Genesis 44:18-28).

Then, in a dramatic moment of contrition, Judah begged to become Joseph’s servant in Benjamin’s stead. He explained that he desired to spare his father a sorrow that might send him to his grave (Genesis 44:30-34).

Closing thoughts – Our study of Joseph’s life and God’s providences will continue in our next devotional (Genesis 45). For today, however, I encourage you to remember that the same LORD who worked through Joseph’s life has promised: “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Questions to Consider: Fearing prison themselves, Joseph’s brothers dared not return to Egypt without Benjamin, their youngest brother. (Genesis 43:3)

1. Why was Israel (i.e., Jacob) reluctant to allow Benjamin to accompany his brothers to Egypt? (Genesis 42:38)


2. How did Joseph’s brothers respond when they found their money in their sacks and Joseph’s cup in Benjamin’s? (Genesis 44:11-13).


3. What did Judah fear would become of his father if he returned to his father’s house without Benjamin? (Genesis 44:31)


Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith


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