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
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.