Genesis 42:21-24


Verse 21,22, And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.  And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required.

I.    Verse 21 - The Brothers Reaction.

A.     All of the brothers say this or at least agree to it.

B.     It is amazing that the brothers are in agreement about an incident that happened 22 years ago.

1.       I don't know if they ever talked about Joseph before.

2.       If they haven't talked about him before, then their first mention of him is about their guilt.

C.     Evidently they do not pray.

1.       They saw the anguish of Joseph, but didn't help him.  They know God sees their anguish, but don't expect him to help them.

2.       They didn't hear Joseph's cries, and they do not expect God to hear their cries.

D.     This distress is come upon us.

1.       This trouble is caused by what they did a long time ago.

2.       Sometimes distress is caused by our past sins, sometimes it just comes.


II.    Reuben's reaction.

A.     Reuben is the only one that doesn't have regrets about his actions that day.

1.       Past sins will always live in our memory and haunt us years later.

2.       Past victories over sin will also be remembered, and there is no regrets over them.

B.     It is difficult to stand against sin.  (I speak especially to young people.)

1.       If someone is enticing you to sin, it is very difficult to stand against them.

2.       If you don't want to sin, you will probably be called "a chicken" or some other such name.

3.       If you do stand against sin, refusing to be involved, you will never regret your actions.

4.       If you are 16, in 22 years you will be 38.  When you are 38, you will remember what you did at 16.  Whether you yielded to sin, or refused to be involved.

C.     "Blood is required" - It is a universal truth that punishment is required for all sin.

1.       Once a person has committed sin, there is nothing they can do to remove that sin.

2.       It will remain in their minds until removed by the forgiveness of God.


Verse 23,24,  And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter.  And he turned himself about from them, and wept; and returned to them again, and communed with them, and took from them Simeon, and bound him before their eyes.

I.    Joseph heard.

A.     The brothers had no idea that this man was Joseph.

1.       Joseph was dressed in the Egyptian clothing and looked like an Egyptian.

2.       They would naturally think that only an Egyptian would have the power and authority this man had.

3.       He was speaking to them through an interpreter.


II.    The interpreter.

A.     The interpreter knew what they were saying, but he didn't know Joseph could understand.

B.     He had no reason to think Joseph could understand.

1.       It seems Joseph had been in Egypt so long, people had completely forgotten where he came from.

2.       It is strange indeed that we can be acquainted with someone, and think we know a lot about that person, yet don't know anything.

3.       I wonder what Joseph told people that asked about his mother and father?

C.     Joseph so completely covered up his weeping that neither the interpreter or the brother suspected anything.


III.    Joseph's Reaction.

A.     He wept.

1.       Evidently, Joseph left the room they were in.

2.       The Bible says he returned to them.

B.     He communed with them.

1.       Communed means to speak, not in a sense of subdue, but in the sense of "give and take" (question and answer).

2.       I don't know if this was in the sense of trying to encourage them, or trying to soften their fears, or just answering some of their questions about the customs of Egypt.

3.       I would like to think he encouraged them on their journey, and the safety of their brother until their return.  He might have asked them how long it would be until their return.  Of the welfare of their father, and younger brother.  He might have talked to them about their families and children.  All of our thoughts about this communion is merely speculative, yet it is enjoyable to think that Joseph tried in some measure to comfort his brothers concerning their present estate.  I believe this is what Joseph would do.

C.     Simeon is bound.

1.       The good communication Joseph had with his brothers did not change his mind concerning keeping one of the brothers in jail.

2.       Holding one of the brothers in jail is an assurance to Joseph that his brothers will return.

3.       If they don't return, Joseph will know they haven't changed in the past 22 years.

4.       There is no doubt in my mind that Joseph would still bring his family to Egypt if his brothers didn't return to free Simeon, but he would certainly treat them differently, for they had proved that they could not be trusted.

5.       Why did Joseph chose Simeon?

a.      I really don't think we will find an answer in the Bible.

b.      It is true that Reuben is the oldest, but he is the one tried to free Joseph 22 years ago.  Perhaps Joseph kept Simeon because he was the oldest after Reuben.

c.      It is also true that Simeon is a very mean fellow.  Genesis 34:25 - It was Simeon and Levi that killed many of the house of Hamor and Shechem because of an illicit love affair.  Perhaps Joseph knew of this, and wanted to see if he was as mean as he used to be.  Levi probably wouldn't get into so much meanness if Simeon wasn't there.