When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, ‘Why do you keep looking at one another? I have heard’, he said, ‘that there is grain in Egypt; go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die.’ So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. But Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he feared that harm might come to him. Thus the sons of Israel were among the other people who came to buy grain, for the famine had reached the land of Canaan.
Talk about having favourites!
We see within the first few verses of this chapter that Jacob is once again showing favouritism to one of his sons. Like Joseph, Benjamin is now the number 1 son, or so it would seem.
But before this the chapter begins with Jacob learning that there was grain in Egypt – He would have heard this from the passing Caravans. He asks his sons why they have not thought about going to Egypt to buy grain and is confused by his sons’ reactions, that they just keep looking at each other. Is this the moment that the brothers have to face the reality of what they did – by having to go to the place they sold Joseph as a slave, not knowing the outcome of his fate? Are the brothers about to start their journey to repentance?
Jacob did not send Benjamin with his brothers – as the only son of Rachel, Jacob wanted to protect his son from harm. What harm? The harm that may happen on the journey or from his brothers? Did Jacob know or suspect all these years what they had done? Did Jacob not trust his other sons? But he sends his sons, not his servants, this job of buying grain to keep the family alive was too important a job, therefore he entrusted his sons with it. Does this happen in our daily lives when circumstances force us to confront past sins head on?
Do we favour one over the other? What do we base this favouritism on? Those that are the same as us, think the same, have the same religion? And if we do how then do we see the other – with doubt, misgivings, or distrust?
Are we sent by our Father to reconcile the hurt we may have been part of, to make peace with our histories, personal or otherwise?
Loving God, as we start this day let us not show favouritism to anyone we meet, but meet them in love and kindness. Let us make amends for our past sins, reconciling with those we may have hurt with our words or actions, allowing us to make peace with our histories. In your name we pray. Amen
Susan Henderson is an ordinand Scottish at the United Reformed Church and Congregational College