Devotional Short Notes on Genesis 43


The chapter start with Moses excerpting from the Book of Jacob that there was a famine in the land and it was very severe. Strict biblical chronology and the old reckoning by J.von Beckerath of Egyptian pharaohs brought pharaoh Sesostris I was the pharaoh under whom this happened in his 21st year in 1951/1950 BCE. Two Julian years normally intersect into one Egyptian year since their seasons shifted due to one quarter of a day that they did not count in their solar year calculations. Their months were 360 days plus 5 days added every year but short of the one quarter to make it similar to ours. Thus, a slip of days and months over years and decades. After 1460 years the calendar is then again correct and that morning the Sothis star can be observed in the right place and right time appearing in the East just before sunrise when observed from either Memphis, Thebes or Elephantine. But the year of the correction for each of these places are different. The article on this by a certain W. Ward in 1992 in BASOR.

Moses said the famine of the year 1951/1950 BCE was severe in Canaan: “And the famine was sore in the land” = וְהָרָעָב, כָּבֵד בָּאָרֶץ (Genesis 43:1). The original used the word “heavy”. Even in colloquial English we used the word heavy for tragic disasters.

They came back but the food did not last that long and more food was needed.

Even though there was a drought in the land, certain fruits still produced and they had a little honey, little balm, spices, ldanum, nuts and almonds (Genesis 43:11). Their animals also needed food as one can see with the drought in the Cape of South Africa currently.

Severity of drought has nothing to do with pollution or human instrumentalities. It was global in the past without pollution and with severity. Famines recycle in the course of history.

Different with Joseph in 1951/1950 BCE than with Daniel in 605 BCE is that Daniel was a Vegetarian but Joseph not (Genesis 43:16). Beef eating was common in biblical times before the use of injections against diseases like in modern times. The method of feeding in traditional Egypt of their animals to be eaten was different than the “battery style quick commercial feeding” of contemporary times. Thus, Ellen White’s counsel to refrain from beef eating in modern times, should not fall on deaf ears, not true?

In Genesis 43:23 the servant of Joseph was probably a Hebrew since they talked to him and he used their language to talk to them “'Peace be to you, fear not; your God, and the God of your father, hath given you treasure in your sacks; I had your money.” וַיֹּאמֶר שָׁלוֹם לָכֶם אַל-תִּירָאוּ אֱלֹהֵיכֶם וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבִיכֶם נָתַן לָכֶם מַטְמוֹן בְּאַמְתְּחֹתֵיכֶם—כַּסְפְּכֶם.

They washed their feet in Genesis 43:24. The washing of His disciples feet by Christ in John 13 was not just a cultural habit. It was an institution of a ceremony for Christians John 13:17 until the Second Coming and beyond.

When Joseph came in, the dramatic depictions of Moses cannot be missed. One is all imagination in this novelistic history. It is a children story also for adults and researchers of history. You cannot help but be in fascination by the corners and surprises the passion and expectation. Moses was a very good writer as his winning epic Job also shows written during the same time he hid from the street-woman Iset’s illegitimate child, Thutmosis III, now full ruler after Hatshepsut’s death, in Midian in 1460 BCE.

Joseph was to act a villain and non-religious but when he saw Benjamin his passions overcame him and the Hebrew honest religion of his heart dropped out of his mouth automatically: “God be gracious unto you, my son” (Genesis 43:29). The brothers were slightly relieved by this hearing since he was talking their language of the faithful not the language of atheists and nihilists coupled with swearing and negativism and criticism as a necessary forced ingredient in communication. “Even if something is right you have to always differ because in a relativistic age there is no fixed truths” they say. But Joseph forgot all that and truth poured out passed the tears of his heart (Genesis 43:30). To see a loved one after many years is a pleasant shocking experience and any human becomes moved.  

Joseph was so moved and happy to see Benjamin that he did not realize that he was insisting five times that a portion from before him be given to Benjamin, but someone was counting among the brothers who had to relate to Jacob what had happened in detail and that detail was recorded in sources used by Moses to write the book of Genesis. It is not imagination but history.


Dear God

Moses brought us also in tears of happiness in this glad reunion. So be us when we meet You face to face for the heavenly banquet. In Jesus Name. Amen.