23 They did not know that Joseph understood them, for there was an interpreter between them. 24 Then he turned away from them and wept. And he returned to them and spoke to them. And he took Simeon from them and bound him before their eyes. 25 And Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, and to replace every man’s money in his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey. This was done for them.” (Genesis 42:23–25 (ESV)
Today’s text informs us that Joseph’s brothers did not realize that Joseph understood what they were saying about the events Moses recorded and which are found in Genesis 37. The reason for this was that an interpreter was present. This was because people from all over the known world were coming to Egypt to buy grain. This meant different languages would be spoken. However, in this case Joseph did not require an interpreter. He understood the Hebrew language because he was a Hebrew.
Lest we think that Joseph was an emotionally calloused and bitter man at this time in his life, the text records that Joseph turned away from his brothers and wept. The Hebrew word for wept means to sob and to bewail. Joseph did not just shed a tear or two. Having turned around from his brothers, he sobbed.
Why did Joseph cry and sob? First, these were his brothers. They had thrown him into a pit and even considered killing him years ago (Gen. 37:18-24). Second, instead of murdering him, his brothers sold him into slavery (Gen. 37:25-28). Thirdly, Joseph must have also recalled his own screams of terror as the Midianites took him as a slave from his home and into Egypt.
Perhaps remembering Reuben’s efforts to spare his life, Joseph does not imprison the eldest brother but rather the second eldest, Simeon. It was Simeon, along with the rest, who willingly participated in the crimes against Joseph (37:21–31).
Then Joseph did something rather interesting. He not only had each grain sack of his nine remaining brothers filled, but he also returned their money which they used to buy the grain. He also gave them ample supplies for their journey home.
Joseph was not a bitter and resentful man. His actions before his brothers prove this to be the case. However, he still remembered the events from when he was a teenager and his brothers’ sin against him.
I’m sure that you have been hurt. People have sinned against you. Perhaps these individuals are even believers in Christ. Do not let any bitterness creep in and take hold in your soul. Remember and meditate upon the words of the Apostle Paul from The Epistle to the Ephesians.
Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
May the truth, evidenced by Joseph and explained by the Apostle Paul, be what is seen in each of us today.
Soli deo Gloria!