Bible Study Notes – Genesis 43.

Joseph’s continued reconciliation with his brothers,

  • Did he recognise & acknowledge Gods presence in his circumstances?
  1. Introduction & setting the context.
  • Have you ever met someone that you have not seen for a number of years – a family member or perhaps a very close friend from school days. What was your reaction?
    • Joseph had such an experience in this chapter coming face to face with his brother Benjamin & continued reconciliation with his brothers.
  • Recall the key events to date in the life of Joseph leading up to now.
    • Joseph’s dreams & enmity with his brothers – Gen 37:5
    • He was sold to the traders who took him to Egypt – Gen 37:25-28.
    • They sold him to Potiphar, captain of Pharaoh’s guard – Gen 37:36. 
    • After a period as Potiphar’s servant he was put in prison where he interpreted Pharaoh’s servant’s dreams – Gen 39:20 & Gen 40.
    • He also interrupted Pharaoh’s dreams predicting 7 years of plenty & followed by 7 years of famine – Gen 41.
    • This led to him being made ruler over the harvest with control of distribution of the grain from the 7 years of plenty – Gen 41:41-45.
    • This happened to Joseph in Egypt before he was 30 – Gen 41:46 plus he acquired an Egyptian wife and two sons.
    • What must he have thought of the coarse that his life had taken to this time?
  • In his initial encounter with his brothers – Genesis 42 – do you believe Joseph over exerted his authority with them?
    • His presence & position certainly unnerved them! – Gen 42:21.
    • He did it with a heavy heart – Gen 42:24.
    • However, Joseph’s position & control over the grain his brothers desired ensured he was in control of the situation & dictated events.
  • Could Chapter 43 be seen as a mirror to the previous one  - let’s see what we can glean from it.
  1. Jacob permits the return to Egypt with Benjamin – read Genesis 43:1-10.
  • The family had used up all of the grain brought from Egypt necessitating Jacob to instruct the brothers to go back and buy more – Gen 43:1&2.
    • Reflect on what Jacob’s prayers to God may have been at this time – he had no food & had lost another of his sons.
  • Why did Jacob resist that Benjamin accompany them – Gen.42:38 & 43:8.
    • He had already lost two sons – could not face losing another – Benjamin, the remaining son of his beloved Rachel.
    • Judging by Judah’s comment – Gen 43:10 - they must have must have previously discussed the return.
  • What pledge did Judah give to his father – 43:9. 
    • Note Rueben’s initial pledge – Gen 42:37&38 – had been rejected but the severity of the famine led him to accept Judah’s.
    • Judah put his own life on the line as a surety for Benjamin - the first good thing we see Judah doing. Previously, he had, 
      • proposed the sale of Joseph.
      • wronged his daughter-in-law Tamar having sex with her as a harlot.
      • What pledge had he made at that time?
  • Application: 
    • What would our reaction have been in similar circumstances where we see events in our lives going from bad to worse? 
    • Would we have seen it as an attack by Satan who likes to sow discord & doubt in believers? or,
    • Would it drive us to prayer in faith seeking the Lords guidance & supporting presence?
    • What support are we instructed to give fellow believers – Gal. 6:2.
  1. The brothers prepare to return to Egypt – read Genesis 43:11-15.
  • What previous occasion had Jacob also showered someone with gifts – Gen 33:10&11
    • Jacob sought to appease his brother Esau with gifts, perhaps now remembering how well it worked although it is the regional custom. 
  • What was the significance with the money – Genesis 43:12.
    • Returning the money Joseph put in their sacks on the original visit.
    • Notice they had not gone back at that time to return it – was that out of fear or that they could not believe their good luck?!
  • Application: have we ever been in a similar situation & found something that was not ours?
  1. They arrive in Egypt & are welcomed by Joseph– read Genesis 43:16-25.
  • Reflect on the welcome they received & the brother’s reaction.
    • Joseph sees that they have Benjamin with them – Gen 43:16.
    • Joseph instructs his steward to invite them to dinner at his house.
      • Did this ease their sense of apprehension or tension – Gen 43:18
    • The brothers seek an opportunity with the steward to resolve the issue with the money – Gen 43:19-22.
      • Note the stewart’s reference to their God – Gen 43:23.
      • Was this a normal response or had he some indication of Joseph’s continuing faith in the Lord?
    • Simeon is released – Gen 43:23.
    • Instead of receiving the harshness they had expected the brothers received the blessings of love & kindness from Joseph still not  knowing who he was – Gen 43:24.
  • Application: Compare this with the Lords love for us – we as sinners should expect punishment but instead thru the death of his son Jesus we are invited to sit with him in his Kingdom – here on earth & later in heaven.
  1. Joseph meets Benjamin – read Genesis 43:26-30.
  • Note the brothers bowing & Joseph’s boyhood dream–Gen 37:5-8.
  • Joseph again asks after the welfare of his family – Gen 43;27&28.
  • Would the brothers have expected this as part of local culture?
  • Why did Joseph react as he did on meeting Benjamin – Gen 43: 29&30?
    • He recognised his “mother’s son”.
    • Joseph kept up the pretence asking the brothers to confirm this was the youngest they had spoken of.
    • He blessed Benjamin – “God be gracious to you”.
    • His compassion overcame him & he wept.
      • When were we previously told, Joseph had wept – Gen 42:24?
    • Joseph’s heart yearned at meeting his only full brother, Benjamin, whom he last saw as only a small child.
  • Application: is this to be an expected reaction we would have upon being reunited with previously close family, school or Christian friends?
  1. Dinner at Joseph’s house– read Genesis 43:31-34.
  • Joseph did not sit with his brothers during dinner - Gen 43:32,
    • He sat by himself.
    • Note the Egyptians also ate by themselves.
  • This was the culture of the time where Egyptians so abhorred things foreign, and we are told that priests, at least, ate and drank nothing that was imported
    • Even with all his status and power, Joseph could still not eat with "real" Egyptians.
  • The brothers were arranged by order of birth – Gen 43:33. 
    • Did the brothers arrange the seating order or was it Joseph?
  • Was there any reaction by the brothers to Joseph’s apparent favouritism towards Benjamin at dinner – Genesis 43:34?
    • No, “they drank & were merry with him”.

Reflect on any personal applications & takeaways you may have from reading this chapter.

  • As you read the chapter & recall Joseph’s life to date, reflect on how much you believe he understood and acknowledged the Lords presence in his life and circumstances.
    • We see no indication of this at present in the story.
    • God was bringing the entire family of Jacob into Egypt. If he had allowed them to remain in Canaan, they would have simply assimilated into the corrupt & godless peoples of Canaan.
    • He puts them among a racist people who would not intermarry or even mingle with them. God simply sent Joseph on ahead to make the arrangements.
  • What application does this have for each of us individually when we believe our lives are out of control – job uncertainties, financial pressures, family problems & health issues – leading us to question what God is doing or if he is there at all?