This blog followed the book of Genesis and the Gospel of Mark in tandem until the latter was completed last week; and will continue with Genesis until it has been completed. The series can be accessed from my archive, starting 01/01/2015. The daily headlines are reminders of the world we live in.
LANDSLIDE VICTORY FOR NATIONALISTS IN SCOTLAND; DEFEAT FOR LABOUR IN ENGLAND.
(For the benefit of readers in other countries, the Scottish National Party is a left of centre democratic party which believes in international cooperation, welcomes immigrants, supports membership of the EU, and has nothing against England except its preference for Tory rule.)
GENESIS 42: 21
But they said each man to his brother:
we are guilty concerning our brother,
that we saw his heart’s distress
when he implored us
and we did not listen.
Therefore this distress has come upon us!
Re’uven answered them saying:
Did I not say to you, do not sin against the child!
But you would not listen
so for his blood, now, satisfaction is demanded!
Now they did not know that Yosef was listening
for a translator was between them.
But he turned away from them, and wept.
When he was able to return to them, he spoke to them and had Shim’on taken away from them, imprisoning him before their eyes.
Then Yosef commanded that they fill their vessels with grain
and return their silver pieces into each man’s sack,
and give them victuals for the journey.
They did so for them.
Then they loaded their rations on to the donkeys and went from there.
But as one opened his sack to give his donkey her fodder at night-camp,
He saw his silver-there it was in the mouth of his pack!
He said to his brothers:
My silver has been returned, yes, here in my pack!
Their hearts gave way, and they trembled to one another, saying:
This is a great illustration of how the storyteller shows God at work: it doesn’t happen through magic deeds of power, but through the working of human hearts and minds, using ordinary materials like wheat and food-sacks and donkeys. The brothers do not recognise Yosef, but he is very much in their minds. The narrator shows psychological insight here in the way the presence of their unrecognised brother plus their own guilt at what they did to him, makes then think of him.
“So now for his blood, satisfaction is demanded!” Re’uven says, little realising the literal truth of his utterance, as Yosef designs a scenario which will test them but will not harm them, although even as he secures ample supplies for them, he cannot resist teasing them with the return of their payments.
“What is this that God has done to us?” – the question shows their misunderstanding of God’s ways: they have brought it upon themselves,(as Re’uven says) with some help from Yosef. God desires justice but he does not impose it by force. Indeed if he did impose it by force there would no need to command it and no point in commending it.