Joseph's treatment of his brothers

Genesis 42:25 --
Joseph gave orders to fill his brother's grain sacks with wheat, and then to put each man's silver back into his sack and to give them provisions for their journey. But rather than comforting the brothers, this frightened them. The concept of Grace is difficult for most people, even Christians, to understand. So they panicked. "What is this that God has done to us?" they asked, in Genesis 42:27.

We often ask why Joseph played games with his brothers this way. Was he vindictive? Possibly. But he also wanted to help them, and to test them. In testing them, Joseph was able to learn several things about his brothers:

Father Jacob's reaction:

The brothers obviously dreaded Jacob's reaction, especially to the disclosure that the Egyptian Prime Minister had requested Benjamin's presence in Egypt. So they bent the truth a little in 43:8, saying Joseph had asked them if they had any more brothers. It isn't recorded that he did.

Reuben's second try at being a hero:

You'll remember that Reuben, as the responsible firstborn, had tried to rescue Joseph from the empty cistern years earlier. Now he's offering the lives of his two sons if Benjamin didn't return. Jacob spurns the offer.

In all of this, no one seems concerned about Simeon, held in jail in Egypt.

A year or two go by, and they are running out of food again, and the reality of the situation was such that food would have to be gotten from Egypt, and the brothers would have to take Benjamin. This time it's Judah's turn to act as the responsible firstborn, as he guarantees Benjamin's return.

Why Judah?

But Jacob still gave Joseph the double portion allotted to the firstborn, not to Judah.

Back in Egypt:

Joseph invites the men to his house for dinner. This, too, scares them, fearing the worst. They try to return the extra money found in their sacks, but were assured that the grain had been paid for. Simeon is released to join them at dinner.

Next week: Joseph continues the charade and tightens the screws even tighter. Genesis 44-45.