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(Verses quoted are from Genesis -- King James' Version -- unless otherwise noted.)

The Joseph Theory

5.     Saving Benjamin

"Without Benjamin they would not get their grain."





We are told why Joseph did not contact his father when his lot improved. After all, he could have easily sent a message. His master, Potiphar, did not know anything about the things that Joseph had taken charge of. Sending a message to Jacob would have been unnoticed.

We are contented with this story as it is... because he was a "slave" and perhaps... also... because the dream that Joseph had of the sun bowing to him had angered Jacob... "was he to bow to his son?" Joseph had been sent out alone... to check on the very brothers who had hated him already. He could well have thought that he was being gotten rid of. Thus, he would never attempt to contact his father again.

This story holds true only if one believes that Joseph and Jacob did not have very strong bonds between them. The alternative story is...

Joseph only appeared to be alone the day that Jacob sent him to check on his brothers. The brothers may have only hesitated to kill Joseph because someone had been lingering around... watching... the man in the field, for instance... the one who knew where the brothers were.

At the least... Joseph would have contacted Jacob when he was made second to Pharaoh. But, then... Joseph would not be certain of his own welfare in Egypt until the drought indeed came to pass... when it was certain that he had prophesied genuinely. If the drought failed to happen... he could be hated again as a Hebrew spy and killed.

Jacob could have known all along where Joseph was, and allowed him to stay in Egypt, as houseman for the captain of the kings guard (a fairly safe fortress) for fear of what the brothers were capable of doing. What would Jacob do with ten defensive men who expected to inherit a fortune... when they realized that they were found out? Would they kill for it? Would Jacob have to kill his own sons...? His own reputation was destroyed by his sons' violent behavior, and he may have lived like a man in a state of siege, fearing what they might do.

So... like always... Jacob bided his time... watching his conspiring sons manuever amongst each other with their damning secret. But, it seems that only Jacob understood how to manage the estate. They needed him. Jacob shows how incapable the brothers are... when he has to tell them to get themselves to Egypt to get corn.

42:1 -- "Why do you look one upon the other? I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down there and buy for us from thence; that we may live and not die."


It can simply be assumed that Jacob was a business man... ordering goods through the caravans... buying spices and supplies. He had accumulated a large tribe, with many needs to attend to. As a wealthy buyer, he surely was sought out by these caravans. A business relationship may have been fostered from the time that Abraham was the head of the clan. Indeed... Moses found refuge with... and then married the daughter of... the sheik of Midian.

Over the years, Jacob had to have developed a bargaining relationship with these "Midianites"... exchanging news and information at business feasts. And... if Joseph had been by his father's side, he too, would have met them. But not the brothers. They didn't seem aware of any of these possibilities.

The Midianites might very well have had something to do with Joseph's life being saved. If Joseph's wise servant had run to the Midianites for help, they might have hurriedly made their way towards the brothers, and let it be known that they were looking for valuable servants and would pay a very high price.

In 43:11, when the brothers are returning to Egypt with Benjamin, Jacob tells his sons to pack the best fruits in the land, along with spices, honey, myrrh, nuts, and almonds... to give to "the man in Egypt." Jacob was sending a message of peace to this "man in Egypt" and it demonstrates how messages are sent... and how caravans can also send messages. It also demonstrates how products can be ordered from those caravans by housemen who are in charge of buying goods for households... such as what Joseph surely had done.


Jacob scorns his sons for telling "the man in Egypt" about Benjamin. If Jacob lost Benjamin, he... "would be totally bereaved."

43:6 -- "Wherefore dealt ye so ill with me, as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother?"

43:13 -- "If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved."

Nothing would happen to Benjamin... because they would not get any grain unless Benjamin showed up alive. Surely... if Jacob did not know that it was Joseph in Egypt, he would have personally gone to Egypt himself... to ensure the safety of Benjamin. He would have never entrusted the safety of Benjamin to the poor negotiating skills of his other sons... to Judah, who seemed to be the acting leader at this point. The brothers could not get any hint that this was the plan to get Benjamin to safety.


In the scriptures, the conspiracy against Jacob and Joseph is glossed over, but one must realize that good Jacob could not have taken it well. The violence that his sons were capable of had held Jacob's tongue back for a long time. His dealings with them had had to be shrewd and careful. He dared not force them out of his camp for fear of the ramifications. He seems to have let them behave as they wanted... using his wealth as they pleased... holding his tongue.

But one thing is certain... Jacob was no fool.

Getting Benjamin to safety would be important. Only when Benjamin was under the protection of Joseph could the secret be revealed to the brothers. They could not even suspect that anything else was afoot or the danger of further conspiracy from them would be very real. Joseph had manipulated the circumstances carefully in order to get Benjamin to Egypt safely.

Jacob continued to hold his tongue, even after arriving in Egypt. It can certainly be assumed that he and Joseph began spending much time together, after having been apart for so long. But... this is not mentioned or even hinted at. Their plans were too important. The stakes were too high. They had to find a way to ensure the survival of the legacy... and to return the tribe to Canaan.




Chapter 6.   The Legacy






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