Blessings & Forgiveness
After Joseph’s family arrived in Egypt and settled in Goshen, the famine grew even worse. There was still grain in the storage barns, but the people in Egypt had run out of money to buy it. Joseph began to collect payments of livestock and houses and land. He took anything the people could exchange for food. Everything he collected was given to Pharaoh. Consequently, Pharaoh’s power and wealth grew enormously. By the end of the famine, Pharaoh owned all the land and livestock in Egypt. The people were allowed to stay on the property they had formerly owned, but they were now working as serfs. They were obligated to give 20% of everything the land produced to the government. Although they would forever owe taxes to Pharaoh, the people were grateful that their families had been spared. Through it all, Joseph made sure his own family was fed. His father and brothers continued to live in Goshen on the land Pharaoh had given them. Seventeen years after moving from Canaan to Goshen (and more then ten years after the famine had ended), Jacob became very weak. Joseph took his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim with him to say goodbye. Jacob mustered all his remaining strength to greet them. Then he blessed them, signifying that he was adopting them as his own sons. (They would later become two of the twelve tribes of Israel.) God led Jacob to give the greater blessing to Ephraim, the younger of Joseph’s two sons. Then Jacob called all of his sons together and blessed them. He told them what God would do through their families in the future. Judah’s blessing was the greatest, because it would be through his descendants that the promised ruler (the Messiah) would one day come. After blessing each of them, Jacob died. The fact that their father was no longer with them frightened Joseph’s brothers. They realized that Joseph might have been waiting for this opportunity to get even with them for what they had done to him as a teenager. It was possible that he had not wanted to upset his elderly father while he was still alive. He may have been waiting for revenge. They wrote a letter to their brother stating that right before he died, Jacob left instructions for Joseph to forgive them. The letter grieved Joseph. His brothers were questioning his motives and character. He began to cry. At this point his brothers knew they had misjudged him. They humbled themselves and offered to be his servants. Although Joseph never forgot the wicked things his brothers had done, he was able to forgive them. He chose to let God handle the consequences. That freed him to be able to take care of his brothers and treat them kindly for the rest of his life.
Do you feel it is your job to “get even” when someone hurts you (or your family or friends)? Or are you able to leave the consequences up to God? We can never be free from the hurt until we are able to forgive. And forgiveness only takes place when we are able to stop attaching our own consequences to their unkind actions.