In Which the Twelve Tribes Party their Asses Off: Genesis 43

Well, the boys should have stocked up with a bit more corn, seeing how they have a 200+ mile journey to the grocery store. They run out and Jacob tells them to turn around and go back for some more grain. It does not look like the motivation for returning to Egypt is to recover the [second] brother that they have abandoned in Egypt, Simeon. Indeed, their only concern is that if they don’t return with Benjamin, they won’t get any more corn.

And Judah speaketh unto him, saying, `The man protesting protested to us, saying, Ye do not see my face without your brother [being] with you;

They try to convince the old man that they need to bring Benjamin or they won’t get any food, and he has another temper tantrum, raging at them:

6 `Why did ye evil to me, by declaring to the man that ye had yet a brother?’

He has a point. That was a bit of an overshare on the brothers’ part. If they had just lied and said “no” when Joseph asked if they had a younger brother, the only way he could have called their bluff would have been to reveal his identity. His detailed inquiry into their family situation probably should have raised a red flag for them in the first place.

Judah reassures his father that it will all work out, and promises to return with Benjamin. They still do not seem very concerned about Simeon’s well-being. These guys do not have very good family values.

Jacob tells them to go ahead, but to bring presents of balm and honey and spices, and also to bring back the money that they were surprised to find in their sacks when they returned the first time. Also, now–finally–he mentions Simeon, although not by name. He just says, oh and bring back your “other brother” too.

They arrive back in Egypt and appear before Joseph again. Although Joseph is apparently still determined to hide his identity from them, he is being obvious as fuck. Does he treat them like anyone else coming to buy grain? Nope, he brings them into his house, slaughters and animal, and orders the preparation of a feast. Basically [in a loud whisper] WOW, I HOPE THESE GUYS DON’T REALIZE I’M THEIR BROTHER. These are some truly dense and illogical motherfuckers, though, so they assume that he is giving them the royal treatment because of “the matter of the money which was put back in our bags.” Sure, that makes sense. A fabulous feast for the petty thieves.

Apparently, they’re afraid that after the feast, he’ll “roll up” on them and “take their asses.” Haha, thanks Bible, usually I have to manufacture my own profanity but you had that one handled.

18 and the men are afraid because they have been brought into the house of Joseph, and they say, `For the matter of the money which was put back in our bags at the commencement are we brought in — to roll himself upon us, and to throw himself on us, and to take us for servants — our asses also.’

I’m never going to get tired of the donkey-ass/butt-ass thing. You’d better get used to it.

The brothers decide to hedge their bets and confess their sin (or their apparent malfeasance, as it were) to Joseph’s head administrator. This mysterious stranger has a convenient (and suspicious) familiarity with the situation, telling them:

23`Peace to you, fear not: your God and the God of your father hath given to you hidden treasure in your bags, your money came unto me;’ and he bringeth out Simeon unto them.

Umm, so who is this guy and how the fuck does he know that? That seems a bit contrived, even for this work of fiction.

Joseph finally shows up to his own party and inquires of the brothers:

27 `Is your father well? the aged man of whom ye have spoken, is he yet alive?’

And they still don’t suspect anything? “How’s Jacob…d’I mean…whatever you said your father’s name was, uh, if you told me. The guy who is definitely not my dad. How’s he doing?”

His behavior gets even more bizarre, but it continues to go unnoticed. He sees Benjamin and breaks into tears “his bowels moved for his brother.” Hahah. That’s, uh, sweet. Actually, I’m not certain that Joseph doesn’t get so moved that he nearly shits himself:

30 And Joseph hasteth, for his bowels have been moved for his brother, and he seeketh to weep, and entereth the inner chamber, and weepeth there;

Even if that wasn’t a euphemism for taking a hasty shit, I’m making it one from now on. “I had some bad curry, gimme a minute, I have to enter the inner chamber and weep.”

Joseph gathers himself and they sit down to eat the meal, although they all sit at different tables. We get a strange explanation about it being “an abomination to the Egyptians” to eat with Hebrews, although I’m thinking it’s probably a deep mutual repugnance, given the entrenched xenophobia we’ve grown to love in the Bible.

Joseph showers the brothers with gifts, but makes sure to carry on the good work of his divisive father, giving Benjamin five times more gifts than the rest of them. I keep expecting a lesson at the end of these stories, but it never comes. By this point, Joseph and Jacob have both borne witness to the perils of favoritism, but then repeated the pattern of behavior anyway. Their behavior is never condemned, but either lauded or simply ignored. They have become heroes to many, but they are deeply flawed and morally bankrupt characters. The only part of this story I can get behind is how they celebrate their reunion that no one is admitting is a reunion yet:they drink, yea, they drink abundantly with him.”

GENESIS 43

1 And the famine [is] severe in the land;

and it cometh to pass, when they have finished eating the corn which they brought from Egypt, that their father saith unto them, `Turn back, buy for us a little food.’

And Judah speaketh unto him, saying, `The man protesting protested to us, saying, Ye do not see my face without your brother [being] with you;

if thou art sending our brother with us, we go down, and buy for thee food,

and if thou art not sending — we do not go down, for the man said unto us, Ye do not see my face without your brother [being] with you.’

And Israel saith, `Why did ye evil to me, by declaring to the man that ye had yet a brother?’

and they say, `The man asked diligently concerning us, and concerning our kindred, saying, Is your father yet alive? have ye a brother? and we declare to him according to the tenor of these things; do we certainly know that he will say, Bring down your brother?’

And Judah saith unto Israel his father, `Send the youth with me, and we arise, and go, and live, and do not die, both we, and thou, and our infants.

I — I am surety [for] him, from my hand thou dost require him; if I have not brought him in unto thee, and set him before thee — then I have sinned against thee all the days;

10 for if we had not lingered, surely now we had returned these two times.’

11 And Israel their father saith unto them, `If so, now, this do: take of the praised thing of the land in your vessels, and take down to the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices and myrrh, nuts and almonds;

12 and double money take in your hand, even the money which is brought back in the mouth of your bags, ye take back in your hand, it may be it [is] an oversight.

13 `And take your brother, and rise, turn back unto the man;

14 and God Almighty give to you mercies before the man, so that he hath sent to you your other brother and Benjamin; and I, when I am bereaved — I am bereaved.’

15 And the men take this present, double money also they have taken in their hand, and Benjamin; and they rise, and go down to Egypt, and stand before Joseph;

16 and Joseph seeth Benjamin with them, and saith to him who [is] over his house, `Bring the men into the house, and slaughter an animal, and make ready, for with me do the men eat at noon.’

17 And the man doth as Joseph hath said, and the man bringeth in the men into the house of Joseph,

18 and the men are afraid because they have been brought into the house of Joseph, and they say, `For the matter of the money which was put back in our bags at the commencement are we brought in — to roll himself upon us, and to throw himself on us, and to take us for servants — our asses also.’

19 And they come nigh unto the man who [is] over the house of Joseph, and speak unto him at the opening of the house,

20 and say, `O, my lord, we really come down at the commencement to buy food;

21 and it cometh to pass, when we have come in unto the lodging-place, and open our bags, that lo, each one’s money [is] in the mouth of his bag, our money in its weight, and we bring it back in our hand;

22 and other money have we brought down in our hand to buy food; we have not known who put our money in our bags.’

23 And he saith, `Peace to you, fear not: your God and the God of your father hath given to you hidden treasure in your bags, your money came unto me;’ and he bringeth out Simeon unto them.

24 And the man bringeth in the men into Joseph’s house, and giveth water, and they wash their feet; and he giveth provender for their asses,

25 and they prepare the present until the coming of Joseph at noon, for they have heard that there they do eat bread.

26 And Joseph cometh into the house, and they bring to him the present which [is] in their hand, into the house, and bow themselves to him, to the earth;

27 and he asketh of them of peace, and saith, `Is your father well? the aged man of whom ye have spoken, is he yet alive?’

28 and they say, `Thy servant our father [is] well, he is yet alive;’ and they bow, and do obeisance.

29 And he lifteth up his eyes, and seeth Benjamin his brother, his mother’s son, and saith, `Is this your young brother, of whom ye have spoken unto me?’ and he saith, `God favour thee, my son.’

30 And Joseph hasteth, for his bowels have been moved for his brother, and he seeketh to weep, and entereth the inner chamber, and weepeth there;

31 and he washeth his face, and goeth out, and refraineth himself, and saith, `Place bread.’

32 And they place for him by himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Egyptians who are eating with him by themselves: for the Egyptians are unable to eat bread with the Hebrews, for it [is] an abomination to the Egyptians.

33 And they sit before him, the first-born according to his birthright, and the young one according to his youth, and the men wonder one at another;

34 and he lifteth up gifts from before him unto them, and the gift of Benjamin is five hands more than the gifts of all of them; and they drink, yea, they drink abundantly with him.

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