In today’s Scripture passage, Joseph’s brothers returned home to their father and told him all the wonderful news: Joseph is alive! He’s ruler over Egypt! He wants us to come live with him and he will provide for all of our needs! Our suffering during this time of famine is over!
One would expect Jacob to react with overwhelming joy at such a report. Instead, his reaction is surprising: his heart became numb.
Please read Genesis 45:25-28.
If you do a quick google search for “numb emotions,” you’ll find that this is not a positive state. Some translations describe Jacob’s reaction as “Jacob’s heart fainted,” but the Hebrew literally means his heart “grew cold” or “grew numb.” Why would such good news cause such a negative reaction?
Several commentators have surmised that Joseph’s brothers shared more than just good news at this time. While telling their father that Joseph was alive, the time had finally come for them to confess what they had done to his favored son, and ask for his forgiveness.
The Scripture is silent on this matter, so we can’t be too conclusive. But this was the appropriate occasion for their confession, and Jacob’s reaction seems to indicate that they finally came clean. Hearing that his sons had been so jealous of their brother that they sold him into slavery and made it look like he had been devoured by wild animals would cause any man’s heart to grow numb. He must have been overwhelmed with grief, and it’s no wonder that he was in such a state of denial (see the end of verse 26). So, his sons reminded him again, not of their own bad actions, but of the current positive state of affairs: Joseph is alive! He’s ruler over Egypt! He wants us to come live with him and he will provide for all of our needs! Our suffering during this time of famine is over!
On hearing their words again, and seeing the transports that Joseph had sent with them, Jacob was awakened from his despair. At the end of his life, he would bless these sons far less because of their horrible actions, but now was not the time for that; now was the time for rejoicing. Despite all that his sons had done, Joseph was alive, and Jacob would get to see him again. In his own words, “it is enough.”
No matter how dark the night may seem, there is always some light. Sometimes it just takes awhile for our eyes to find it and adjust to it. But, when we focus on the light, we too will find that it is always enough.
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