Genesis 41:1 – 44:17; Haftarah: I Kings 3:15 – 4:1
This week our study focuses on the dreams/prophecies of Joseph and their fulfillment in the life of the children of Israel. We see how all of the dreams – those of Joseph as well as those of Pharaoh are connected to bring about the next phase of the history of salvation. We study the character of Joseph’s brothers – who continue to see him as evil, and this throughout their life with him, even to the end of Genesis. We study what “changed” in them, and why Joseph accused them of being spies – and how all this related to the spies Moses sends out in the book of numbers.
Scripture references from the episode
When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.” ’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for ham I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Ge 50:15–21)
(Gn 41:55) Ambrose – On Joseph 7.41
Indeed, anyone who was suffering from famine was sent to Joseph. Who are these people? Those of whom it is said, “They shall return at evening and shall suffer hunger like dogs.” Now there was famine, not in one locality alone but over the whole land, because there was no one to do good. Therefore the Lord Jesus, taking pity on the hungers of the world, opened his granaries and disclosed the hidden treasures of the heavenly mysteries, of wisdom and of knowledge, so that none would lack for nourishment. For Wisdom said, “Come, eat my bread,” and only the one who is filled with Christ can say, “The Lord feeds me, and I shall want nothing.” Therefore Christ opened his granaries and sold, while asking not monetary payments but the price of faith and the recompense of devotion. He sold, moreover, not to a few people in Judea but to all, so that he might be believed by all peoples.
(Gn 43:19) Ambrose – On Joseph
And they began to desire to plead their case to the man who was steward of the house at the door of the house. They still hesitate to enter in and prefer to be justified from their works, for they desire to prove a case rather than to receive grace, and so they are refuted at the gates. But the one who awaits the fruit of the Virgin’s womb and the inheritance of the Lord is dealing in the goods of the Son and is not ashamed at the gate. Rather, at the end of this life he drives back the enemy so that the latter, who is aware of his quite serious guilt, may not hinder him as he hastens to higher things. On this account, the steward answered them in a mystical sense. And know who this is, when you read that Moses was faithful in all his house. For Moses and Peter and Paul and the other saints are the stewards, but Christ alone is the master. It is written, “Moses was faithful in all his house as a servant for a testimony of those things which had been said, but Christ as the Son in his own house, which house we are, if we hold fast liberty and the glory of the hope.”
(Gn 43:23) Ambrose – On Joseph 9.50–51
They indeed had said to him, “We found the money of each one of us in our sacks. We have brought back our money in full weight.” O mighty mysteries, and mysteries clearly portrayed! This is to say: Why are you puffed up? Do you assume too often that the money you have in your sacks is your own? What indeed do you have which you have not received? But if you have received it, why do you boast as if you have not received it? Now you have been satisfied, you have become rich; you believe that you possess the money, but the God of your fathers has given the money to you. He is your God, he is the God of your ancestors, and you have denied him. But he grants pardon and forgiveness and receives you back if you should return. He is the one who does not ask your money but gives his own. He has given you money in your sacks. Now your sacks hold money that used to hold mire; and therefore he is your companion who says, “You have cut off my sackcloth and have clothed me with gladness.” The gift of gladness is Christ. He is your money; he is your price. The Lord Jesus does not demand from you the price of his grain, does not ask the weight of your money. Your money is unsound; the money in your purse is not good. “I have received your good money”; that is, it is not your material money but your spiritual money that is good. You have brought it down out of faith and devotion like the sons of Jacob; it is expended without loss and is counted out without any deficit, seeing that for such a price the loss that is death is avoided and the profit that is life is gained.