Read Genesis 42:25–38
25 Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to put each man’s silver back in his sack, and to give them provisions for their journey. After this was done for them, 26 they loaded their grain on their donkeys and left.
27 At the place where they stopped for the night one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey, and he saw his silver in the mouth of his sack. 28 “My silver has been returned,” he said to his brothers. “Here it is in my sack.”
Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, “What is this that God has done to us?”
29 When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them. They said, 30 “The man who is lord over the land spoke harshly to us and treated us as though we were spying on the land. 31 But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies. 32 We were twelve brothers, sons of one father. One is no more, and the youngest is now with our father in Canaan.’
33 “Then the man who is lord over the land said to us, ‘This is how I will know whether you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take food for your starving households and go. 34 But bring your youngest brother to me so I will know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I will give your brother back to you, and you can trade in the land.’”
35 As they were emptying their sacks, there in each man’s sack was his pouch of silver! When they and their father saw the money pouches, they were frightened. 36 Their father Jacob said to them, “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!”
37 Then Reuben said to his father, “You may put both of my sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back.”
38 But Jacob said, “My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in sorrow.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectDo you trust God even in impossible situations? Close your eyes and imagine what Jacob must have been feeling.
Have you ever been in a situation where you can see no possibility of positive change? Jacob has good reason not to trust his sons. Simeon and Levi slaughtered all of the people of Shechem in revenge for Dinah’s rape without consulting him (Genesis 34); Reuben slept with Bilhah, his concubine, which would have been understood as an
attempt to usurp Jacob’s authority (35:22; see also 1 Kings 2:22); and Judah failed to uphold the tenets of levirate marriage within his own family (Gen. 38). Jacob’s response leaves the brothers with no illusions: their father doesn’t trust them, Rachel’s sons are still his favorites, and Simeon is expendable.
Reuben’s offer seems noble at first glance. He is ready to suffer as his father had suffered, sacrificing his two sons for the only two sons who really matter to Jacob. But what a ghastly promise. What kind of grandfather would require the death of two grandchildren? There seems to be no way forward.
Are you or someone you know stuck in a hopelessly impossible situation? Lift the situation and those involved to the Lord.