(Genesis 45 – all references from NIV except as noted)
This book of the Bible is the story about when Joseph’s brothers made their second trip to get more grain from Egypt. This time they did bring their youngest brother Benjamin with them, because Joseph had told them on their prior visit not to return for more supplies if they did not bring their youngest brother – Joseph’s blood brother from the same mother.
I encourage you to read chapter 44 where Joseph had, in today’s terms, pulled a fast one on them and basically put the fear of God in them. After some begging from Judah for Benjamin to be released and returned to their father, Joseph could no longer withstand the strain of not revealing his true identity. So he finally confessed to them that he was Joseph, their brother that they had sold into slavery when he was a very young man. This shocked them so much it says in verse 3b: “…his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.”
Joseph did his best to reassure them that he was not going to retaliate for what they had done to him so many years before. In verse 5 he tells them: “’…do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.’” Then again in verses 7 & 8 he tells them: “’God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you that sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharoah, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.’”
He gives them a lot of instructions too. In verse 9: “’Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay.’” Verse 13: “’Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.’”
Verses 16-20 are Pharoah giving additional instructions for Joseph to pass along to his brothers. Then in verse 24b Joseph says to his brothers: “’Don’t quarrel on the way!’” (The Message translation puts it this way…”’Take it easy on the journey; try to get along with each other.’”) Why would he feel the need to specifically say that to them as his last directive?
I found that odd, so I checked The International Bible Commentary. The indication I found there was that Joseph probably considered the fact that his brothers were going to have some serious explaining to do when they told their father that he was still alive and how that came to be. (After all, back in chapter 37 they schemed and lied to their father about what had happened to Joseph.) They had to know that if they did not tell their father the truth, that when he saw Joseph he would question him about how it was that he was alive and doing so well in Egypt of all places! So they knew there was likely going to be a real smack down when they got back home.
Can you imagine the conversation among the 10 older brothers as they traveled? They would desperately be trying to figure a way to lessen the impact of the truth on their elderly father; all the while trying to justify their own actions. I wonder if they were able to follow that last directive from Joseph – “Do not quarrel on the way!”? It is actually kind of humorous when you think about it. I wish the scripture had told us all about that journey and the positioning each of them would take; and, how they finally explained their actions to Jacob.
Have you ever found yourself in a “situation” with a sibling, a friend, or maybe even an enemy or someone unknown to you, when you were caught red-handed in a wrongdoing? Did you quarrel among yourselves about who was at fault – likely everyone pointing fingers at the others? Were you able to come to a compromise/agreement, or did you each go your own way and explain to your parents (or other superiors) how you were innocent and it was all the fault of someone else? Have you ever ended up being the fall guy for someone else’s wrongdoing? How can those types of situations best be handled?
Quarreling will rarely make things better or end up with a positive resolution. Facing matters with the truth, asking for forgiveness and loving one another is always the best route. Anytime we sin, we have to realize there will be consequences. Remember that wise Biblical saying “What goes around comes around?” Yeah, me neither. But…there is a verse that says: “A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7b) Verses in Proverbs also tell us that if you love to quarrel you love sin (17:19) and that if you are quick to quarrel you are a fool (20:3) and that pride breeds quarrels (13:10).
I believe in light of those scriptures I would rather try to keep peace than to quarrel and be considered sinful, a fool or full of pride. I would rather live in peace and the comfort of forgiveness, wouldn’t you?
Written by Karran Martin – January 25, 2019