Genesis 42:21 They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come upon us.”
Today’s verse is from the remarkable story of Joseph. His brothers have come to Egypt for grain and find themselves being treated as spies by the Governor of Egypt who is Joseph. He had recognized them and when they bowed down to him, he remembered his dreams about them. But they did not recognize him.
Joseph spoke harshly to them and held them in custody for 3 days. When told that they would be allowed to return home by leaving one of the brothers in custody in Egypt, the brothers spoke today’s verse to one another. In spite of his pleadings, they remembered their cruelty to him.
Picture the scene 21 years earlier when Joseph found his brothers near Dothan. A young man of about 17, he was simply obeying his father in finding his brothers, to see how they were doing. He had no idea what lay in store for him – what God had in store for him. When he got to them, they stripped him of his richly ornamented robe and threw him into a dry cistern.
Can you imagine what Joseph was experiencing? He faced the anger of ten older brothers who wanted to kill him. It’s possible that he heard them debating over whether to kill him or not and how they would cover it up if they did. At this time, the caravan of Midianite merchants passed by. Joseph finds himself being pulled up out of the cistern, not to be set free or killed, but to be sold as a slave and taken to Egypt.
Think of Joseph as the caravan moved on to Egypt. Did he have any hope of seeing his father again or his brother Benjamin? Did he have any thoughts of the dreams that he’d had? Was he grateful for simply being alive – that they hadn’t killed him? Did he cry out to God?
Did he have any idea that being sold into slavery by his brothers was God’s plan for his life?