Posts Tagged ‘Reuben’

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Genesis 42: The First Journey

West: Jacob Blesses His Sons

Benjamin West: Jacob Blesses His Sons

Everyone in this story is tested.

Jacob’s sons are reluctant to go to Egypt for rations of grain even though they starve.  Jacob speaks to them in this way: Why do you keep gaping at one another?  I hear that rations of grain are available in Egypt.  Go down there and buy some for us, that we may stay alive rather than die of hunger.  Later he must allow the precious smallest son, Benjamin, to return to Egypt with his brothers; this is the condition laid upon them by Joseph.  If some disaster should befall him on the journey you must make, you would send my white head down to the nether world in grief. 

Joseph suffers greatly when he sees his ten brothers who once discussed murdering him before selling him into slavery.  He speaks to them through an interpreter so as to retain his anonymity; his reaction to their conversation is one of deep sadness: Turning away from them, he wept.

As Joseph’s brothers argue over how to proceed, Reuben reminds them that they ought not to have rid themselves of Joseph years earlier: Didn’t I tell you not to do wrong to the boy?  But you wouldn’t listen!  Now comes a reckoning for his blood.

Everyone in this story suffers.

Our culture encourages us to avoid pain at all cost.  We are too often taught that failure is a negative to be circumvented . . . not an opportunity to learn something about ourselves and others.  We regard tests as ordeals . . . we do not see them as opportunities to examine our minds and hearts.  We look upon obstacles as objects to be overcome . . . we do not see constricting circumstances as a lesson plan from God.  We too often see adversity as punishment . . . and we miss the fact that hardship and strife give us an occasion to draw nearer to God.

We are all tested.  We all suffer.  This is an inherent condition of the human experience.  Later in this story (50:20) Joseph will say to his brothers: Even though you meant to harm me, God meant it for good, to achieve his present end, the survival of many people.  Joseph sees his trials for what they are . . . God’s providence and love converting all harm to good.  Joseph makes this journey first, his brothers and father follow later, completing a passage they had never imagined possible.  They experience loss and sorrow, joy and surprise yet they move forward inexorably . . . hoping to traverse their pain.

What does all our suffering and testing mean?

We might take time today with this part of the Genesis story to contemplate the sons of Jacob and the many lessons their story contains.  Let us make our own first journey to discover the gift of our misfortune.

For a reflection on Genesis 43 – The Second Journey, the journey of return, enter the words in the blog search bar and explore. 

Image from: http://www.oneyearbibleblog.com/2011/01/january-24th-one-year-bible-readings.html


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passenger manifest

Brisbane, Australia Ship Manifest

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

1 Chronicles 5:11-22

Who Are We?

The establishment of the tribes of Israel in the Promised Land is described in this portion of 1 Chronicles. All of this sorting and sifting of names and places looks like a census report we might stumble upon as we research our own roots; or we may be reminded of a ship’s manifest in which we delight to see a grandparent’s name. What we read about today is Reuben, Gad and East Manasseh whose family trees are described; and in this section of the history we see the tribe of Gad struggling to establish a secure dwelling place. They do this with God’s help. For during the battle they called on God, and he heard them because they put their trust in him . . . Many had fallen in battle, for victory is from God; and they took over their dwelling place until the time of exile. In anticipation of later events, the Chronicler tells us that in the beginning the people of Gad led God-centered lives and so were successful. We know that later these warrior people join David in his fugitive life under King Saul and that they are eventually deported by the Babylonians. More information can be found at . . .   http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/112386/jewish/Gad-and-His-Tribe.htm

We watch the news coming to us from around the world and we pray that people will be able to put aside their tribal differences in order to affect change that will bring unity once they move beyond tyranny. We watch the national and local news to see legislatures and communities fall apart that at one time came together in distress. There is something in human nature that calls us to smallness once we are comfortable and to greatness when we are oppressed.

USA 1910 Census Document

USA 1910 Census Document

Who are we when we struggle to keep our heads above water? Who are we when our lives are going well? Who are we when we feel that God is in our corner? Who are we when life goes wrong?

Although we may not feel God’s presence, he is always with us. Although we may not hear God’s voice, he is always speaking. God remains constant, we are the unpredictable ones.

When we write the story of our lives we will want to keep in mind that God is always present in both big and little ways. Whether or not we feel that he is with us . . . God is here as our constant, faithful redeemer. When we feel that no one is looking . . . who are we?

Adapted from a reflection written on February 26, 2011.

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