Famine in Canaan
Jacob sends sons to Egypt
To purchase some grain

The stage is now set
For family reunion
Just as God planned it?

Famine hits the region but, thanks to Joseph’s plan to store grain during the years of plenty, there is food in Egypt (Gen 41:53-54) Jacob sends 10 of his sons to Egypt – Benjamin did not go – because he heard food was available there. (Gen 42:1-4).

Joseph recognizes his brothers, but they do not recognize him (Gen 42:7-8). Before revealing his identity, Jacob’s favorite son will test the others to make sure they have changed since abandoning him almost 25 years earlier.

When the family reunion takes place in next week’s portion, Joseph will tell his brothers not to feel guilty for what they have done – it was all part of God’s plan (Gen 45:5-8). Earlier, when interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams, Joseph says the years of plenty and years of famine are the work of God (Gen 41:28).

The question mark at the end of this week’s haiku reflects uncertainty about what happens by God’s design and what happens as a result of the actions of God’s creation exercising the Divine gift of free will. It’s a question we might never be able to answer.

There’s an old joke which asks why Jews answer one question with another question. The answer, of course, is “Why not?” The question mark might be the most Jewish of all punctuation marks, a critical tool for our exploration and understanding of the text.


Image by Véronique Debord-Lazaro via Flickr

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