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When Conflicts Happen, Part 2: Joseph and the Great Reveal

December 16, 2016

Another Way for week of December 16, 2016

When Conflicts Happen, Part 2: Joseph and the Great Reveal

Last week I shared the story of a time my father confronted my husband about a friction that had come up between them. It reminded me of the story of Joseph in the Bible and his conflicts with his brothers who were so jealous of Joseph’s status as beloved son of Jacob’s second wife, Rachel.

But Joseph did seem to be the type of kid who enjoyed rubbing his status in his brothers’ faces. He told his brothers his dreams of wheat sheaves bowing down to him, and the heavens also bowing. What older brothers wouldn’t have been thoroughly peeved and disgusted about a kid brother throwing that kind of junk in their faces? Come on, Joseph! Don’t you have a clue about brothers? Even dear old dad rebuked Joseph for telling the dream about the sun and moon paying obeisance. Joseph was extremely lucky to end up just thrown in a pit and sold to traders heading to far off Egypt, rather than killed as some of his brothers wanted to do.

Eventually there’s a great famine in Egypt. Joseph with his nifty dream interpretation skill is well placed in Egypt and he predicts a famine, and tells how Egypt can prepare. Egypt ends up as the only place with food because of the vast storehouses Joseph had been put in charge of building.

Joseph’s brothers get wind of the fact that there’s food in Egypt. They talk their father Jacob into letting them travel to buy some. When they encounter Joseph the first time as boss of the warehouses, they don’t recognize him; he quickly figures out who they are and just can’t resist the urge to get back at them for selling him into slavery. He demands that if they want more food, they will have to bring their youngest brother, Benjamin, to Egypt.

Like that is going to happen in 100 years, what with dear old dad still grieving the loss of Joseph. The brothers are sick as they return to Canaan with their precious food. Joseph binds and keeps his brother Simeon as a sort of hostage. The famine continues and the brothers need to get more food, and tell dad they must take Benjamin if they want to get food. Jacob finally lets Ben go, saying he lost Joseph and Simon and now, “If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.”

Image result for free bible story art joseph

freebibleimages.com

When the brothers reach Egypt, Joseph tricks his brothers again—planting a silver goblet in Benjamin’s sack as they leave, and then sending out servants to overtake the brothers and reveal that they have “stolen” from Joseph. The brothers, through all of this, have suffered a hundred thousand times for the ill they brought on their brother’s head, saying, “This is all in payment for what we did to Joseph.”

Finally Joseph’s heart—which is good and God fearing—breaks to see his brothers’ pain. He understands the suffering his dear father has gone through, and sends all of the Egyptians out of the room. He alone is left with his brothers. And Joseph, this great leader of Egypt who reported only to Pharaoh, who indeed had servants who bowed down to him, wails and weeps—the Bible says the Egyptians and the whole house of Pharaoh could hear him. Ponder that sound a minute—the deep sobs of a 30 year old man echoing off the palace walls. Sobbing for the treachery his brothers visited on him, the grief his father lived with all these years, his own deep need to get back at his brothers, his immaturity to brag about his dreams as a kid—we don’t know what all those sobs were about but we can guess. Family conflicts are knotty.

Image result for free bible story art jacob and esau reunite

Reconciliation of Jacob and Esau.

After Joseph explains to his brothers the bigger picture—he says it was not they who sold him into slavery but God who had a hand in seeing that he was well placed for this critical point in Egypt and Israel’s history. The Bible says he “fell upon the neck of his brother Benjamin” and wept. And soon everyone is falling on each other hugging and crying. It is one of the greatest scenes of reconciliation in the Bible, right up there with Jacob and Esau’s own reunion and reconciliation many years earlier. No “reveal” on a modern TV reality show can match the human jealousy, treachery, and backbiting of Joseph’s story. It should remind all of us that no matter what the wrongdoing, misunderstanding, miscommunication, or just plain stupidity has gone before, relationships can be mended. We can be reconciled.

Reconciliation is the great theme of the Bible, but too often, even as Christians, we live with grudges and revenge in our hearts, even or perhaps especially in families. With whom do you long to be reconciled?

Any stories you’d like to share? Email me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or write to Another Way Media, Box 363, Singers Glen, Va. 22850

 

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books, most recently Whatever Happened to Dinner. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

 

 

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