Benjamin shuddered each time he heard the word. Although he was only ten, he heard the elders talking. Partly, he figured, because his mother had died when he was born, and partly because of the secret about his brother Joseph, his father often let Benjamin hover nearby.
Jacob had grown weaker season by season, and most of the time he now lay on his pallet fingering the tattered remains of Joseph’s many-colored coat until he fell asleep. Many times Benjamin had sat, quietly hidden in the shadows of the tent as
his father remembered with his friends that sad day when the brothers brought home the blood-stained piece of Joseph’s coat.
Benjamin grimaced. Someone besides Jehovah knew what ten brothers thought was their secret. But none of the brothers knew Benjamin had heard. Heard and seen them around the campfire on that crisp first autumn day when their father had sent him with the cheese and bread they’d left too hurriedly without.
He came upon them in the dusk. Though the food would be welcomed, Benjamin knew he was not, and so he listened for a bit, jealous of their freedom. He was sure they had been drinking, and yet their laughter and their stories had the ring of truth to them.
Sickened, he’d heard enough. Carefully, he backed off a distance, then purposely snapped twigs as he walked toward them – warning of his coming. What a terrible secret was now in his heart.
Their sneers and rude remarks about his noisy tracking reddened his face as did the glow of the early evening fire. For once Benjamin was grateful for his tendency to redden for it would hide the nervousness over his unexpected knowledge. He counted on the brothers’ rude behavior to run him off so they could complete their devious plans, and so they did.
Minutes later, Benjamin was racing toward home, reviewing what he’d heard and wondering what he should or could do with the information he’d heard. He was certain if they knew how much he’d heard, they would kill him too.
Fear chased Benjamin all the way home. And fear had stalked him to this moment years later. Famine! Was God punishing his family for what his brothers had done – or for what Benjamin had not done? For he had never told his father that he knew-somewhere-Joseph was probably alive thanks to Reuben.
With this background in mind, how do you suppose Benjamin felt when they were stopped by soldiers on their way home from getting grain in Egypt? How about when his brothers made the pledge that if they actually found the supposed cup, that person could be their slave? What did Benjamin feel as they searched through their grain bags one by one for a silver cup? Can you imagine his astonishment when the cup was found in Benjamin’s bag? Was Benjamin’s unresolved issue regarding the loss of his brother Joseph always at he forefront of his mind? Did he blame all of life’s events on his own behavior?
If you don’t know the resolution to Benjamin’s story, you will want to finish reading Genesis 42. Most important is the moral of the story and Joseph’s use of the silver cup to enable him to reveal what the brothers meant for evil, God meant for good. Silver in that time was used to purchase – to redeem – and this story (and our story) is, ultimately, about redemption too. A cup is also used elsewhere in scripture as a metaphor representing one’s lot or fate in life – the divine appointments whether good or difficult that God causes or allows to come to us. The most well known example is Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane that if the only way the purpose of his “cup” could be completed were if he receive it (drink it), then he bowed to the Father’s will.
Perhaps you’ve seen where these thoughts have led me – to my cup – to lose our daughter early in life, in an unexpected and shocking way, and naturally, the recoiling to its pain. To feel the cost is too great. Yet, I also wonder if, like Joseph, and like Benjamin, the only way God’s purpose can be fulfilled in this cup is that I stop making this about me, and seek God’s help to redeem my circumstances to comfort others.
I pray this will be so and that God will help us each to let him redeem our cup.
2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles so that we may be able to comfort those experiencing any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow toward us, so also our comfort through Christ overflows to you. 6 But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort that you experience in your patient endurance of the same sufferings that we also suffer. 7 And our hope for you is steadfast because we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you will share in our comfort. ©NET