Joseph has prepared a place for his family in the best of Egypt. Now he introduces them to Pharaoh. And Pharaoh gives them a job.
When we left Joseph the last time he had just explained to his brothers about Egypt’s relationship with shepherds. He also informed them that they were to tell Pharaoh they were herdsmen since their youth. Then he went to Pharaoh himself to pave the way for their conversation. Now it is their turn to speak to Pharaoh. He is praying they remember his words of warning.
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Joseph returns to his home after meeting with Pharaoh. He is to bring representatives of his family before Pharaoh tomorrow. Asenath greets him upon his arrival. “Good evening my beloved. Has your family arrived safe? Have you shared with them our union?”
“Not yet my love. I just got them settled a few hours ago. They are to meet with Pharaoh tomorrow. What I would like to do is bring them here after they have spoken with Pharaoh. You could make them one of your special meals and I will present you and our sons with honor during it.”
“That sounds like an excellent idea! I will prepare the quail dish you find so pleasing. How many should I anticipate serving?”
“I don’t want to overwhelm Pharaoh with ALL of my family at once so six in total should be enough.”
“How will you decide which of your brothers should stand before Pharaoh?”
“I will ask God. He is much wiser than I am. I will trust Him to show me which should take on this task.”
That evening at dinner Joseph tells his sons that they will be meeting their grandfather and the rest of Joseph’s family the next day. They are both excited! Asenath insists they bathe tonight so as to look their best when they meet Joseph’s family.
Morning comes and Joseph’s family bustles about preparing for their first glimpse of their extended family. Joseph will be away from his post today as he attends to the needs of his family. Joseph instructs his most trusted steward to stand in for him today. This isn’t the first time he has left matters in his steward’s hands, but to Joseph, it is the most important time. He wants to be able to devote his full attention to his family today.
Joseph rides out to Goshen to assemble the envoy that will meet with Pharaoh. On the way he prays for God’s guidance in choosing who will represent his family. His father is a given, but he must choose wisely between his brothers.
“Joseph is coming!” shouts Benjamin.
All eyes turn as Joseph arrives in his chariot. It is still early in the morning so the family hasn’t fully dispersed for work yet. Some are out tending the flocks, as this is a full time job, while others are readying for daily chores and to relieve the ‘night shift’ crew.
“Welcome my son to our humble home” says Jacob.
“Good morning father. I need to bring you to meet Pharaoh today. Some of my brothers will also need to come. He is anxious to meet you all, but I don’t think we should bring everyone as our family can be a bit overwhelming in size.” Joseph smiles as he makes this final statement.
“I hear you there, but I wouldn’t have my family any other way. I’m blessed to have such a large company. Who do you believe should come? You know Pharaoh’s needs much better than we do.”
“I have been praying about that on the way over here. I feel led to ask for volunteers first and if that doesn’t work we will draw lots and let God show His hand that way.”
“A good idea. It will take a little time for Simeon and Zebulun to come in from the field. They were on watch last night. Reuben and Asher were to relieve them this morning but until we decide, I think I should send some of the older grandchildren. They are more than capable and responsible enough.”
Gershon and Hanoch are sent out to relieve the brothers and tell them they are needed right away in camp. They waste no time following their grandfather’s commands. Simeon and Zebulun arrive shortly afterwards. “That was quick!” remarks Jacob. “Everyone must be in the mood to run today.”
After all the brothers are gathered, Joseph wastes no time in sharing his needs. “I need to present you to Pharaoh today but I don’t think it would be wise to bring such a large group before him. I propose bringing 5 of you and father. I was thinking about who I should bring and thought I should ask for volunteers first. Anyone want to volunteers?”
Reuben and Judah are the only ones to raise their hands. “Looks like we have 2 of our 5, which brings me to my next idea. We will draw lots for the three remaining spots. Let God choose which of us should go.” Heads nod all around.
Joseph places stones in a bag. Three are white while six are black. Each brother is to reach in and take a stone. He is to hold it in his hand until all the stones have been drawn, and then they will reveal them together. The draw moved from eldest to youngest. After Benjamin draws the final stone the brothers open their hands. Gad, Dan and Benjamin each hold a white stone. They will join Reuben and Judah in Pharaoh’s court.
Reuben comments, “Looks like the Lord wanted at least one son from each of our father’s wives. That was actually what I would have suggested.”
“Good observation and good idea Reuben. I wish I would have thought of that but that still would have left us one short. Judah, your volunteering rounds everything out. Thank you for your help” replies Joseph.
Before leaving, all those accompanying Joseph dress in their best clothes, trim their beards, and make sure they are presentable. Then the brothers and their father load into one of Pharaoh’s carts that he had sent to collect them. They follow behind Joseph’s chariot as he leads them to Pharaoh’s court.
The ride takes about an hour. Conversation in the cart centers on remembering Joseph’s instructions and imagining what Pharaoh looks like. “I bet he wears the same face paint Joseph does.” “Do you think he will be dressed like a king or a god? I hear the Egyptians think he is a god.” “What would a god dress like anyway?”
“He is no god but treat him with respect due a leader of this great country” admonishes Jacob.
Joseph pulls his chariot to a halt outside Pharaoh’s court. Reuben pulls the family’s cart beside Joseph’s. All the men dismount from their rides. Joseph looks everyone over one last time. He wants his family to make a good impression of Pharaoh. “Just remember what I said about your occupation and everything else should be fine. Oh. And when we are finished here I want you to come to my home for a meal. I have something special planned for you.”
Joseph leads his family into Pharaoh’s court and asks Pharaoh’s servant to announce them. He is gone but a moment when he directs the group to enter. “Pharaoh is expecting you and says he looking forward to meeting your family.”
“Thank you for your service” Joseph says then leads the way into Pharaoh’s hall. “My lord, I would like to present to you some of my brothers. This is Reuben, Judah, Gad, Dan, and Benjamin.”
“Please tell me a little about yourselves. What is your occupation?”
“We, your servants, are shepherds, as were our fathers before us.”
“Are you any good at this occupation?”
“We believe so as our herds are healthy and well cared for. They breed well each year. We ask permission to reside in this land for there are no pastures left in Canaan because of the severe famine. If you would grant us permission to dwell in the land of Goshen we would be most honored.”
“Joseph, your father and brothers have come to you for help. The whole land of Egypt is at your disposal. Settle them in the best of the land. Settle them in Goshen.” Pharaoh looks away from Joseph and back to Reuben, who was the spokesman for the brothers. “And if you know any good shepherds among you who would be of service for my flocks, put them in charge for me.”
“Thank you my lord for your confidence. We would be happy to assist with your flocks. We would care for them as if they were our own.”
Joseph then turns his attention to Jacob. “My lord, I would like to present to you my father Jacob, son of Isaac.”
“I am pleased that you have come to mend the brokenness that was in Joseph’s heart. He has served me well but there was still a sadness about him. Since your arrival that has been left him.”
“I too suffered great sadness in the absence of my son. I am grateful for Pharaoh’s care of him.”
Pharaoh smiled at Jacob’s answer. “How old are you?” Pharaoh asks.
“I am 130 years old. My life is short compared to my fathers in their lives and my life has also been very hard.”
“I hope to improve on those days. For the remainder of your days, Egypt is your mother. Joseph will see to all your needs as well as your families.”
“Thank you my lord for your kindness. May the God of Heaven rain down his blessings upon you for your care of my family.”
“He has done that already by sending us Joseph. But I am always willing to accept more of His kindness.”
Joseph escorted his family from Pharaoh’s court after their conversation concluded. “You all did wonderfully! I knew he would approve of you once he met you. Shall we adjourn to my home for a meal?”
“That would be most welcome, seeing as we had to rush off without much time for breakfast” volunteers Benjamin.
“You’re always hungry Benjamin” kids Dan.
“I can’t help it; I’m a ‘growing boy’!”
“Be careful which WAY you grow though” replies Judah with a smile and a pat on Benjamin’s stomach.
When the group arrives at Joseph’s home Asenath, Manasseh, and Ephraim are waiting to greet them. Ephraim had been watching for his father’s chariot all morning. As soon as he spotted it he called out to his mother. She quickly readied them and brought them to the entrance of their home. They wanted to personally welcome their special guests.
Joseph opens the door to his home and smiles at his wife and sons who stand ready. He steps behind them and turns to his father and brothers. “I would like you all to meet my family now. This is my wife Asenath and my sons Manasseh and Ephraim.” Each member of Joseph’s family inclined their head at their introduction.
Jacob’s face is beaming with joy! “First my son is restored to life and now he has sons also! I am so pleased to meet you and will have to spend a GREAT amount of time getting to know everything about you. You must come visit me in my new home. You have MANY cousins who would love to meet you also.”
Manasseh’s face radiates excitement at this prospect. Ephraim is a little more cautious, but if Manasseh is with him he will go anywhere. “May we visit father?” Manasseh asks Joseph.
Joseph puts a loving hand under Manasseh’s chin and smiles down at him. “I had planned to bring all of you to meet the rest of my family at week’s end… “
“YES!” cries Manasseh.
“…But for now, let’s make our guests comfortable in our home.”
“Oops. I mean, thank you father.” He then turns to his grandfather “Would you follow me and I will show you where you can wash before we eat.”
Jacob wiggles his eyebrows at Manasseh which causes Ephraim to giggle. “Lead on my fine lad.”
Dinner couldn’t have gone any better. Fine food, wine, company, conversation and love flowed freely throughout the room. “I am truly blessed by God” flows through both Joseph and Jacob’s minds and hearts.
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Father God, I love how You brought this family back together. You had a purpose for Joseph that required his absence from his family but You didn’t mean for that absence to last a lifetime. It was only for a season but it had a VERY BIG reason.
In our world today families are torn apart all the time. And most times there isn’t a happy reunion. That’s not right! I wish I had power over it. In the blended family You have given me I try to unite it. Sometimes I feel like I’m putting plaster over razor blades. They keep cutting through what I’m trying to mend. But maybe I’m not supposed to mend them together. They never occupied the same home together. You have helped me make some headway though as they have all began to look forward to Camp NaPa. THANK YOU for that!
More important though than my “family blending” activities is YOUR “family construction.” Joining Your family was the most important decision in my life. You are bringing members from every walk of life and melding them into one family. My hat is off to You! I’m looking forward to the final “family dinner” where I get to meet everyone! I’m with Manasseh, “YES!” Can’t wait to meet those cousins, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and any other “relation” out there. For now, keep me reaching out to the ones nearest me with love.
That last part is sometimes difficult because You know how brothers and sisters can get on each other’s nerves. “Sibling rivalry” is a real thing. Help me not fall into it!!! Help me love BOTH my families like You do; unconditionally. Teach me every day what that REALLY means in my life. That’s a scary prayer Lord, but I’m making it anyway. You are the Potter, I am the clay.