Joseph gazed out over the dying fields of grain, which seemed to go on forever. He often thought of his father, especially when the famine began, but that had not stopped the feeling of dread that coursed through him when he first saw his brothers arrive.
God, he had thought, I don't know if I'm ready for this.
Three days had passed since he threw them in the prison, making sure they were placed in the exact same cell he had once occupied. Sure, they were innocent; he knew that well enough. But his own innocence had not saved him all those long years ago. As much as he hated to think himself cruel, he wanted them to taste just a little of what he had been forced to endure by their hands. To really understand fear for the first time in their lives.
Please forgive me, but I just need to know what kind of men they are.
He kept them there, watching, waiting. Wanting to see if any of them felt true remorse over their betrayal. So far he had yet to witness anything beyond their casting the blame for their current predicament on each other.
They really don't recognize me do they? I'm not even a second thought to them.
Reuben mentioned something about warning them not to hurt the boy. Several nodded their heads in agreement, but Simeon, showed absolutely no sorrow whatsoever. He shouted furiously at them that God was "punishing" them, and soon they all agreed with him.
Now they're blaming You?
That night, as he slept, Joseph became once again the abandoned slave-boy. Hauled behind the trader's camel, his body ached with exhaustion, his mouth parched from the hot desert air, his lips cracked and bleeding from the sweltering sun. He had given up hope that his brothers would rescue him. In fact he thought he heard them laughing at him from far away, their voices echoing in the wind. Anger was the only thing that kept him alive. And he vowed that someday he would have his revenge.
Jolted awake from his nightmare, he rose from his bed. He could almost feel the blisters on his feet, and the raw skin where the ropes had cut into them. He rubbed them almost out of instinct, as the anger seethed through him. He hated them. He thought that he had forgiven them, but seeing them again had re-opened all the old wounds, forcing him to face the bitterness that still resided in his soul.
A cool breeze drifted in through the window; a familiar, gentle touch. He let it waft up around him, filling him with comfort and peace, as though the very hand of the Almighty gently touched his face. Suddenly, he was overwhelmed with shame.
Forgive me for my anger. I let the Enemy get to me. No more! I will release them.
Before the sun had risen, he ordered them brought before him—all of them except Simeon. He told them that the only way they could prove they were not spies was to bring their so-called youngest brother, Benjamin back with them to confirm their story. Then he would release Simeon, and their names would be cleared. But if they did not return, or returned without Benjamin, then he would put them all to death.
You know I won't kill them. I just wanted to see how they'd react. A test of their character.
His brothers were not happy, but he had given them no other choice. They could either return with Benjamin or eventually starve. Joseph doubted that they would choose starvation.
Perhaps Benjamin is the key to see the true nature of my brothers. I need to know if they’ve changed, that they aren't the same hateful men they used to be. Only then will I tell them who I am.
Joseph swallowed the huge lump in his throat as he watched his brothers fade into the purple haze of dawn. Confident of their return, perhaps they could once again be a family.
"Good journey, brothers," he whispered to himself. "Good journey."
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