Published on
December 22, 2023

Genesis 42

“Then they said to each other, ‘It is plain that we are being punished for what we did to our brother. We saw his deep distress when he pleaded with us, but we would not listen.”

Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Read Time
4 minutes
Genesis 42
“Then they said to each other, ‘Obviously, we are being punished for what we did to our brother. We saw his deep distress when he pleaded with us, but we would not listen. That is why this trouble has come to us.’ But Reuben replied: ‘Didn’t I tell you not to harm the boy? But you wouldn’t listen. Now we must account for his blood!’”  Genesis 42:21-22

Drawing again from the “Messiah imagery” in the Joseph story, there are two hauntingly familiar statements in the gospels.

The first words are those of Pilate recorded by the apostle Matthew, “When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that a riot was starting instead, he took some water, washed his hands in front of the crowd, and said, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood. See to it yourselves!”  Matthew 27:24 (HCSB)

Reuben, as firstborn, had the birthright to spiritually lead his brothers. Just as Pilate caved into the pressure of the religious leaders, Reuben caved into the pressure of his brothers. Instead of protecting Joseph, based on what was right before the Lord, Reuben chose to stop defending Joseph…perhaps believing his defense would jeopardize his own life.  

The second haunting image is the Jewish leaders responding to Pilate’s plea to set Jesus free. “All the people answered, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!”  In the heat of the moment, Israel’s sons’ viciously envious attitudes (towards Joseph) foretold the attitude their descendants would have towards Messiah Jesus.

Blinded by hatred, both groups (Joseph’s and Jesus’ “brothers”) sought to kill the one/One whom God had anointed to save them. Sadly, as was the case with Joseph’s brothers, so it will be for all whose sinful actions against Messiah meet their logical end…both Jew and Gentile. (In essence, all our sins have played a role in Jesus’ suffering.)  They must eventually take ownership of and bear great shame for their attitudes and actions against Him.  

We will all face the Lord someday, and we must recognize just how much Jesus’ suffering provided our way out. The Bible states that “every knee will bow and tongue will confess that Jesus, Messiah, is Lord.”  Like Joseph’s brothers in Egypt, we are given a choice to accept the grace and forgiveness offered by the Messiah and follow His leading. But first, we must acknowledge our sin and humble ourselves before Him.

Now that the greatness of our sin (and the certainty of our judgment) has been brought to light, who could reject so gracious a gift of salvation? (Hebrews 2:2-3)

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