Today we see Joseph’s brother return to Egypt to buy more food. As directed they return with their other brother Benjamin. They are still unaware that Pharaoh’s steward is their brother Joseph who they sold into slavery many years ago. Joseph fills their caravan with food and sends them on their way. But he has set a trap. He has hidden as silver goblet in the sacks of his younger brother Benjamin. He sends soldiers to catch up with his brothers and accuses them of stealing. Why has he done this?
They key to understanding the test is to remember the family relationships at play. Remember Jacob loved Rachel but was tricked into marrying Leah. Jacob’s favorite son was the first born of Rachel who is Joseph, now the steward of the Pharaoh. Rachael’s only other son in Benjamin, thus he is also likely favored by their father Jacob. Joseph heard his brother’s talking on their first trip to Egypt, they seemed sorry for what they had done many years ago to him. Now, by placing Benjamin in a position where he too might be sold into slavery, Joseph is testing whether they truly are sorry. It is Judah, the one who originally gave up Joseph, who speaks for them. “No, take me”, he says. His repentance is complete so Joseph reveals himself to his brothers and reunites with them.
An important fact the might be missed, notice when they return home the brothers tell their father Jacob (now named Israel) that Joseph is still alive at first he doesn’t believe them. This is a prefigurement of the resurrection when the messiah, Jesus, will come back to life and many in Israel will not believe.
Some quick notes about Jesus second miracle of loaves and fishes – the feeding of the four thousand.
First, what is interesting is WHERE this happens. Jesus is in Tyre and Sidon and exorcizes a demon from the Canaanite woman’s daughter. Afterward, He “passed along the Sea of Galilee”. These are in the northern part of Israel on the border with the gentile territory. Then we see Jesus work many miracles and the people don’t just give thanks to God but they, “worship the God of Israel”. In other words, the feeding of the four thousand is the gentile equivalent of the feeding of the five thousand. Most likely intended to show that the gospel will come to the gentile’s as well.
Second, notice that the language used to describe the miracle is precisely the same. Jesus took bread offered from the crowd, He blesses it giving thanks, He breaks it and then he gives it. Again, this is looking forward to the last supper.
Third, notice also, HOW the bread is distributed. Jesus does not give it out directly to the crowd. The crowd does not come forward and take it themselves. It is given the Apostles to be distributed to the crowd. Jesus is the Word incarnate and He says that He is the bread of life. The Apostles are his ministers, who bring the word and the bread to the people. This is pattern that Jesus will repeatedly endorse and establish a Church.