The famine continues to wreak havoc. Joseph’s brothers are in need once more and Jacob/Israel tells them to go to Egypt. They refuse to go without Benjamin because they fear Joseph. Jacob loads them with gifts and sends them on their way with the boy after Judah agrees to be personally responsible for his wellbeing.
When they arrive, they are reunited with Simeon. They are all aloud to get presentable before a meal with Joseph. At the meal, Joseph does not sit with them, because Egyptians don’t eat with Hebrews. However, he sends food to their table. He sends Benjamin five times the amount he sends the others.
Joseph is pouring out affection on Benjamin without telling his brothers his identity. He has love for Benjamin at least.
Perhaps in a misguided attempt to love Benjamin, Joseph has his cup planted in Benjamin’s bag before the brothers leave. While they are on their way he has his servant go to them and check their bags for stolen items. The brothers agree that whoever has taken it may be returned to be a servant, and the rest will go home. When the cup is found in Benjamin’s bag they tear their clothing.
They return to Joseph and offer to all stay as slaves. Joseph turns them down. Then Judah pulls him aside and assures him that Jacob will die if the boy is not returned. Judah offers himself in exchange.
How the brothers have changed over time! They will not abandon Benjamin as they did Joseph so many years ago. Perhaps they saw what it did to their father. Or perhaps, like the Grinch, their hearts grew three sizes that day.
Joseph is overcome with emotion and reveals himself to his brothers. They are reunited. Joseph is not angry for their actions, he can see now how God used them for good and blessing.
Sometime hindsight is the best way we see God acting. I wonder what our lives might look like if we were constantly watching for God’s surprising action, instead of looking back where it has already occurred.
The Sadducees and Pharisees are at it again! The Sadducees, who do not believe in the resurrection, are asking Jesus questions about the resurrection. They only want to trip him up. But he surprises them saying that people will not marry or be given in marriage in the time to come. That sort of family structure and the social constructs that go along with it won’t be needed because everyone will care for everyone else. The kingdom of God will not be divided by families or loyalties, it will be united in God.
The Pharisees then ask what is the greatest commandment. Jesus tells them to love the Lord your God will all your heart, soul, mind and the second is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself. These two simple phrases sum up the 10 commandments perfectly. Love is really the greatest action, verb, task we can accomplish.
My name is Cardelia Howell-Diamond and I pastor a congregation in Alabama. I'm a clergymama, with a clergymama! I have three lovely littles and an amazing clergyman husband. I love life in the church, even when I don't! I knit, crochet, read, write and sew, though none of these as often as I'd like.