Then he commanded the steward of his house, ‘Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the top of his sack. Put my cup, the silver cup, in the top of the sack of the youngest, with his money for the grain.’ And he did as Joseph told him. As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away with their donkeys. When they had gone only a short distance from the city, Joseph said to his steward, ‘Go, follow after the men; and when you overtake them, say to them, “Why have you returned evil for good? Why have you stolen my silver cup? Is it not from this that my lord drinks? Does he not indeed use it for divination? You have done wrong in doing this.”’ When he overtook them, he repeated these words to them. They said to him, ‘Why does my lord speak such words as these? Far be it from your servants that they should do such a thing! Look, the money that we found at the top of our sacks, we brought back to you from the land of Canaan; why then would we steal silver or gold from your lord’s house? Should it be found with any one of your servants, let him die; moreover, the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.’ He said, ‘Even so; in accordance with your words, let it be: he with whom it is found shall become my slave, but the rest of you shall go free.’ Then each one quickly lowered his sack to the ground, and each opened his sack. He searched, beginning with the eldest and ending with the youngest; and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. At this they tore their clothes. Then each one loaded his donkey, and they returned to the city.
Thanks to Messrs Lloyd-Webber and Rice, this oh so familiar story of Joseph hurtles towards its climax. Talk about role reversal – the once powerful, bullying brothers are at the mercy of their unrecognised brother. The previously arrogant Joseph now sees his opportunity – was he out to test his brothers to see if they had changed their ways or was this simple revenge?
How often are we presented with such a moment – a chance to say, ‘I told you so’, an opportunity to get our own back on someone who has slighted us, maybe even years earlier? It is so tempting to take the opportunity, after all what is it they say, ‘revenge is a dish best served cold’. Social media has certainly made it easier for people to retaliate – be it revenge porn or simple rumour spreading; even better when it can be done anonymously behind a keyboard.
If you don’t know already, you’ll have to wait a few days to find out what Joseph did, but every day we hold power over people – what do we do, do we genuinely forgive and forget, or do we listen to that voice which says, ‘go on, do it, make them suffer as you have’?
Lord, we have enormous power for good or ill, help us, in our daily lives, to make the right choice, for as the psalmist said, ‘walk away from evil and do good … for the Lord loves what is right’. Amen
The Rev’d Branwen Rees, East Wales Regional Minister