There is not one single verse in Genesis 42 that doesn’t stand out to me. I have been back and forth through the chapter, but it’s rich.
Joseph has gone from favored son to slavery at the hands of his brothers to prison to second highest in the land of Egypt. If that’s not a ride that will turn your stomach upside down more than once… One day, he looks up and there are his brothers. I have to wonder what his heart did in that instant. We could sit here and guess all day, but we’ll never know. I’ve been jolted at the sight of some people I thought I’d never lay eyes on again, and whether it was good or bad, it’s certain he felt something.
Right here, Joseph has the opportunity to send them packing. To get revenge. To destroy them. How hard was it for him not to stand up and say, “Guess who!” then lop their heads off? Or not to embrace them? Or both? That man, after all he’d been through, had to feel torn in two. Notice, he doesn’t make it easy on them. At all. But he doesn’t destroy them. Notice, too, that he almost immediately asks about his father and younger brother. He makes Simeon stay behind until Benjamin is brought to him. This is a man who misses his family.
And then he proceeds to mess with their heads. Can you imagine how freaked out they must have been when they found their grain back in their sacks? Far from being grateful, they’re terrified. In verse 28, they look at each other–surely feeling the guilt of what they did to Joseph so many years ago–and ask, “What has God done to us?” Now, all these years later, they are confronting their sin face to face… and they don’t even realize how close that face is.