The last chapter of Genesis contains many lessons for us. It opens just after the death of Jacob, called Israel. In verse 1, we read, At this Joseph threw himself on his father’s face, covering it with tears and kisses. NJB There is no doubt of the love Joseph had for his father.
Next, Joseph ordered the Egyptian doctors to embalm his father, an expensive and time-consuming process reserved for the elite in Egypt. We learn from this that the children of Israel were not slaves in the days of Joseph.
Further, the Egyptians also mourned for Israel, indicating that Jacob held a place of status in their society.
Joseph requested that Pharaoh allow him to carry Israel to Canaan for burial. When the text reads, and with him went all Pharaoh’s officials, the dignitaries of his palace and all the dignitaries of Egypt, NJB we should not overstate the case. The round trip would have been at least six months, and Pharaoh could not have run the country by himself. Read it as “Many.” None-the-less, to have Pharaoh’s household go on such a journey for a non-Egyptian is incredible.
That brings us to today’s reading. Joseph’s brothers said, ‘What if Joseph intends to treat us as enemies and pay us back for all the wrong we did him?’ NJB Decades had passed since the ten older brothers sold Joseph into slavery, decades in which Joseph welcomed them, fed them, and raised them to the highest levels of society. But their sin lurked in their memories.
Today’s lesson is on forgiveness. We see the brothers making an almost desperate move to make sure they are safe from their more powerful younger brother. Before your father died, he gave us this order. NJB In their desperation, they banded together to lie. Notice the extra touch, your father.
They did not understand. They were much like the Twelve Disciples who sort of knew what Jesus was teaching, but not fully.
What kind of forgiveness did they receive? One they did not deserve.
Read my comments on these NT readings here.
Be righteous and do good.