when jacob learned that there was grain for sale in egypt, he said to his sons, “why do you look at one another?” and he said, “behold, i have heard that there is grain for sale in egypt. go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die.” so ten of joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain in egypt. but jacob did not send benjamin, joseph’s brother, with his brothers, for he feared that harm might happen to him. thus the sons of israel came to buy among the others who came, for the famine was in the land of canaan. [genesis 42:1-5]
why do you look at one another?
we see here the brothers looking at one another—asking either “who’s going to do something about this” or “who can we blame for this?” and no one stepped up. we see here again the results of jacob’s absent parenting—we have not seen any of his sons accept the mantle of leadership or accept responsibility for their sins. joseph’s dreams as a teenager are about to come true! the older will bow before the younger.
this can serve as a warning against absent parenting, but it also gives us hope! in the midst of jacob’s failed leadership, God made a plan to bless his family. God is not just the God of good advice, whose “formula for life” makes us happier—he is our redeemer! out of death, new life is made; out of brokenness, God brings restoration; in the midst of famine, God brings daily bread! what a beautiful example of Jesus’ “light yoke”—despite jacob’s consistent failing, God still makes good on his promises to abraham. God always makes good on his promises!
Father, thank you for redeeming us by the blood of your Son. thank you for giving to us not based on how excellently we work for you but according to the work of Jesus! teach us to live for you not to earn a better life, or even in order to bear fruit, but in response to what you’ve done for us. we are undeserving servants—send us as you will!
~ stephen hall