In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us (v. 21).
Guilt. There is nothing heavier in the universe.
The previous chapters have been set-up for all that’s about to happen. Here begin to resolve the conflict that was introduced back in chapter 37 when Joseph’s brothers sold him to the carnies.
Now we bring the brothers back into the story. Joseph is now the big shot in Egypt. Chapter 41 closed with a statement about how the entire world was coming to Egypt and Joseph for food. And we see that the famine has reached all the way back to Joseph’s family.
Desperate, ten of Jacob’s sons make the journey to Egypt. And this is when the story starts to heat up.
Years have passed, but we’ve never been told how Joseph feels about his past. Does he remember his family? Does he miss home? Does he hate his brothers? Does he think about them?
Have you ever been hurt by someone who then was absent from your life? Can you imagine how you would react if they suddenly showed up again?
That’s Joseph’s dilemma. I wonder if he’d ever played this over in his head—what he would say to his brothers if he ever had the chance.
On the flip side, what are the brothers thinking? Did they ever imagine they’d encounter Joseph again? From their statement in verse 21, Joseph haunts their dreams. They carry a burden of guilt like a ton of bricks.
All the tension in this story and the coming chapters comes from the fact that Joseph knows who he’s dealing with while the brothers have no clue.
And all the while, God is at work behind the scenes in the midst of all the choices of these men.
What about you? What do you see?