After Joseph was able to interpret Pharaoh’s dream, Pharaoh made him second in command of all of Egypt. He gave him a wife and much wealth. Joseph immediately started making plans to store the abundance of food for the next seven years. He managed all the food storage and preparation. So much was stored they stopped keeping records! During the seven good years, Joseph had 2 sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. Manasseh’s name was to represent that he had forgotten the trouble of his father’s household and Ephraim to represent that God had made him fruitful in his land of suffering.
However, at the end of the 7 good years, the 7 years of famine began. A famine is when no crops will grow. Joseph began the job of feeding the Egyptian people from the excess they had stored. But the famine extended beyond Egypt and people from surrounding lands began to come to try to buy food. This is when 10 of Joseph’s brothers showed up. Imagine Joseph’s surprise when his brothers bowed before him to request grain! This was just like the dream he had had in Genesis 37:5-8! But Joseph’s brothers didn’t recognize him. This may be just because he was older but it probably had to do with the way Egyptians dressed. Since Joseph was in charge of Egypt he had to dress like one. He began to ask them questions and accused them of being spies. The told him, “no,” that they were not spies they were actually all brothers and had just come to get grain. Joseph told them he didn’t believe them and they needed to bring their younger brother to prove it. After spending 3 days in jail, they ended up leaving Simeon behind and taking back their grain. When they got home, their father Jacob, was very upset. He did not want the only son he had left of Rachel’s to go away to Egypt so he refused to let them take Benjamin leaving Simeon stuck in jail!
Now eventually the grain the brothers had brought back ran out. Jacob wanted them to go back and get more but Judah reminded him they couldn’t go back without Benjamin. He promised to be personally responsible for Benjamin’s safety. Jacob finally agreed but they took extra gifts to give to the Egyptian official in hopes he would be kind. When they arrived they were taken to Joseph’s house and were very afraid, but Joseph was kind and sent all of them on their way home with their grain and a trap.
Joseph had been very moved to see his brothers but he didn’t know if they had changed. Remember these were the people who sold him into slavery!!! He set a trap to make it look like Benjamin stole from his house to see how his brothers would respond. When Judah stood up and volunteered to take Benjamin’s punishment to save their father pain, Joseph know they had changed. He revealed himself and joyfully moved the whole family to his protection in Egypt.
Through all the years of pain and suffer, God had a plan. Joseph needed to be in the right place at the right time to save God’s people (his family). Jacob’s sons needed to learn lessons of compassion and loyalty. God used what had seemed terrible (slavery and a lost son) to bring about good.
Has anything ever happened to you that started out seeming bad but turned out to be better than you could have imagined?