● Gen 42:29b-34 . . they told him all that had befallen them, saying; The man who is lord of the land spoke harshly to us and accused us of spying on the land. We said to him: We are honest men; we have never been spies! There were twelve of us brothers, sons by the same father; but one is no more, and the youngest is now with our father in the land of Canaan.
. . . But the man who is lord of the land said to us; By this I shall know that you are honest men: leave one of your brothers with me, and take something for your starving households and be off. And bring your youngest brother to me, that I may know that you are not spies but honest men. I will then restore your brother to you, and you shall be at liberty to move about in the land.
When they got home, they proceeded to report to their father Jacob the details of their experience. In spite of his age, which was near 130, Jacob was still the dominant figure in the family; and apparently well respected since no one seems to feel inclined to question his authority.
● Gen 42:35 . . As they were emptying their sacks, there, in each one's sack, was his money-bag! When they and their father saw their money-bags, they were alarmed.
It must have seemed to Jacob that his sons stole the grain, or why else would they still have their money? To the men, it must have seemed like the obtuse Egyptian big shot was toying with them; to set them up for a charge of theft. As these thoughts raced through every man's head, Jacob became a bit paranoid; which Webster's defines as: a psychosis characterized by delusions of persecution; as in "Why's everybody always pickin' on me?" (The Coasters, 1959)
● Gen 42:36a . .Their father Jacob said to them: You have deprived me of my children.
Jacob held his eldest sons responsible for Joseph's demise. But he is even more complicit. Jacob should have known better than to send his young teen-age son all by himself to find the others a good many miles from home in a mostly wilderness area. That was irresponsible.
● Gen 42:36b . . Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!
Poor ol' Jacob. Little did he know that the night gets darkest before the dawn. Mr. Israel had little to celebrate at this point; but morning was right around the corner.
They all, including Jacob, should have thought the whole situation through for a minute. The big shot accused the brothers of spying. So now why would he trump up a charge of theft against them? Which is worse, spying or theft? Spying, of course, is much worse than theft. And how ever could thievery prove the big shot's much more serious charge of spying against them?
It couldn't. No proficient spy is going to do something dumb that is sure to draw attention to himself. When Joshua's spies entered Jericho (Josh 2) did they begin shop-lifting, or taking things off of people's clothes lines? No. They were discreet. Jericho's authorities still caught on to them anyway, but at least it wasn't for something stupid.
So the men must have reasoned that the big shot was hedging his bets. If he couldn't get them on a charge of spying, then he would get them for the lesser charge of theft. But they should have asked themselves: Why would the obtuse big shot be so anxious to nail them at all? Is that how he amused himself; by framing people and throwing them in jail for something they didn't do? That's not an unusual police activity. In our own day, Iraqi authorities, under the auspices of Saddam Hussein, used to do that all the time.
For some reason, it just never occurred to the men that maybe the big shot down in Egypt simply pitied them. He had, after all, professed to fear God; and by doing so, implied that just in case their story were true, he didn't want to be responsible for causing their families any undue hardship; but no, they assumed the worst instead.
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