Questions to Consider
1. Imagine you are writing the setting for the first act of a play that begins with the action in chapter 42. Reviewing previous lessons (links above) if necessary, how would you briefly set the scene?
2. By which name does this passage call Jacob in 42:1? In 42:5? Why do you think it switches back and forth?
3. Examine the extent of the famine (42:5) on an Old Testament map. How widespread was it?
4. Why did Joseph act the way he did toward his brothers? (42:6-38) Why did he speak roughly to them, accuse them of being spies, jail them for three days, insist on keeping Simeon to ensure their return, ask them to bring Benjamin back, and return their money into their sacks? Was it revenge for how they had treated him? Was he trying to find out if their character had changed since that time? Did he really think they might be spying out Egypt? Could it have had something to do with guiding them toward repentance for what they had done to him? (Hint: Notice that the further Joseph carries the rough treatment, the more information he draws out of his brothers about themselves and the rest of his family, and the more he obligates them to come back to Egypt.)
5. Examine 43:2. Speculate on how much grain the 10 brothers could have carried back from Egypt and how long it might have lasted. Where was Simeon this whole time? (42:19,24) Which of the other brothers had spent a long time in an Egyptian jail? Why didn’t Joseph keep Reuben, the firstborn? (Remember, in this culture the firstborn would have been seen as the most important, or valuable, son, making him a better bargaining chip.)
6. How is the gospel reflected in Israel – the father – sending (43:13) his “only son” (42:38) to (what Israel thought would be) his death (42:36,43:14) in order to redeem (42:34,43:5,14) his captive (42:24) child who could do nothing to free himself?
7. How do you suppose Joseph’s steward knew about the one true God? (43:23)
Think about Joseph’s position and power compared to the lack of position and power of Simeon and the other brothers. What ultimately won Simeon’s redemption – his own abilities, the money his brothers brought, the present they brought, or bringing Benjamin? Even after all of those efforts to earn Simeon’s freedom, didn’t Joseph still have the power to kill or imprison any or all of his brothers if he wanted to? Was Simeon’s redemption earned by any human effort or was it by Joseph showing mercy and extending grace? How is this a picture of our salvation being completely dependent on the mercy and grace of God? Write down three Bible verses that explain how salvation is by God’s grace and mercy, not by our human effort of good works to earn salvation.
Suggested Memory Verse
May God Almighty grant you mercy before the man, and may he send back your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.