Genesis 42:3, 4 Then ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. 4 But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm might come to him
It has been about 8 years since Joseph entered the service of Pharaoh to prepare for the famine that has now arrived. It is about 21 years since he was sold into slavery by his brothers. The famine is everywhere, not just Egypt, and word has spread that there is grain available in Egypt for purchase. So Jacob instructed his sons to go to Egypt and purchase grain to save their lives. But he did not send Benjamin.
Why was Jacob afraid that harm might come to Benjamin if he sent him with his brothers? He didn’t just have a suspicion – he was afraid. Twenty-one years earlier, Joseph had disappeared leaving a bloody robe – apparently killed by a wild animal. That had a devastating impact on Jacob. He mourned for Joseph many days and refused to be comforted.
One suspects that the idea of foul play by Joseph’s brothers had occurred to Jacob. The brother’s hatred of Joseph was as visible as was Jacob’s love for him. It had been apparent to the entire family that Jacob loved Joseph and Rachel, his mother, so much more than any of the rest of them including his other wife Leah. All these years Jacob lived with the horrible suspicion that his sons had killed Joseph.
One of the sobering things in all this is that Jacob experienced 21 years of pain as part of God’s plan. He not only lived with the thought that Joseph had met a cruel death, but he was also deprived of all those years of having Joseph with him. Would God do such a thing? Yes he would!
We need to come to grips with the fact that God will allow or cause all manner of things to happen that will accomplish His will – many of which are things that we would view as highly negative – yet they are part of God’s plan. Often our viewpoints are far more influenced by our culture than by our understanding of God. We must learn and understand His ways and come to know Him more intimately. If we do, we can better respond with faith no matter what happens to us.