Vengeance or Forgiveness?
Would you choose vengeance or forgiveness? Joseph’s brothers met with him in Egypt approximately 20 years after they sold him to slavery. As administrative head of Egypt, Joseph was in charge of abundant grain reserves that Egypt accumulated under his management during a seven-year period of abundance. He now presided over grain sales to people that came to Egypt from different parts of the world to buy supplies during a severe world-wide famine.
Dead, Slave, or Prime Minister?
His brothers had come to Egypt from Canaan to buy grains. They did not recognize him. The brother they sold into slavery and thought should be dead by now was not only alive but is the prime minister of Egypt. They did not know him. However, he recognized them but did not reveal himself to them. Instead, he presented himself as harsh to them, accused them of spying on Egypt, extracted information from them about their father and youngest brother Benjamin that did not come with them, and insisted they go home and bring Benjamin in order to verify their information.
Detained as a Pledge for Faithfulness
He detained their brother Simeon in Egypt to ensure they have an incentive to return. If they returned with Benjamin, he would admit them as traders. Otherwise, he would conclude they were spies and treat them accordingly.
Test to Verify Repentance
Did Joseph contemplate vengeance against his brothers? Or, was he testing them to determine if they had repented from the behavior that led them to almost kill him, their junior brother, 20 years earlier?