Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost (Aug. 20th)

Pastor's Summary of Genesis 45:1-15

Joseph has risen to power in Egypt. There is a famine in much of the Middle East, and Jacob has sent ten of his sons to buy grain, but has kept Benjamin, son of his favorite wife and full brother of Joseph, at home. When they seek to buy grain, they are accused of spying; as surety that they will return with Benjamin, they must leave Simeon behind in Egypt. to lose Benjamin would break Jacob's heart, but the old man agrees to his heir joining this brothers on the second trek to Egypt. When they depart for home with the grain, Joseph has them arrested for stealing: he has had his silver cup placed in Benjamin's pack, where it is found, so Benjamin is detained. Judah pleads for Benjamin's release, saying that he expects Jacob to die if Benjamin fails to return home. And here our reading beings.

Joseph can no longer hide himself from his brothers. He dismisses his courtiers, to be alone with his family: this is a personal affair. He identifies himself and then explains the theology behind what has happened to him: God has worked through his brothers. By selling him into slavery, he says, "God sent me before you to preserve life". God acts in history, through special people. It is Joseph's management of Egypt's grain stores that will keep Jacob's family (clan) alive through the famine. Israel, "a remanant on earth" will survive. God has even made Joseph "a father to Pharaoh", vizier or prime minister.

In v. 9 Joseph shows that he is eager to see his father again: "...do not delay". He offers them land in "Goshen" (v. 10), the fertile area east of the Nile delta. There they will be "near" (v. 10) him: this and other clues in this chapter place the story in time; the royal court was in lower Egypt during two periods: the Hyksos period ( 1720-1550 BC) fits this and other data in the story. Joseph forgives his brothers (v. 15).