“If any of your servants is found to have your master’s cup, he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.”-Genesis 44:9
For those of you who have been following my posts for any length of time, you know that one of my pet peeves is hammering home the importance of understanding the Bible within the context of the ancient middle eastern culture from which it sprang.
Doing this will in one fell swoop solve a host of problems concerning misinterpretations and false doctrines.
Examining the Scriptures from their proper Hebrew perspective is like going from a tiny 10-inch black-and-white TV to a high-resolution 3D color widescreen model.
The difference is incomparable.
It’s fascinating to witness the slow but steady transformation that Israel underwent in contrast to the surrounding nations.
It was like the other nations remained frozen in time while only Israel grew and matured into a nation like no other.
These changes gradually came about through Israel being exposed to both YHVH’s laws AND being influenced by His Spirit.
However, at this stage in history, the tribes of Israel seemed to have little regard for human life.
Whenever they wanted to prove their honesty or resolve a difficult situation, death always seemed to be the answer.
-They killed all the men of Shechem for raping their sister.
-Judah ordered that Tamar be burned alive for her supposed out-of-wedlock pregnancy.
-Reuben offered his own children’s lives to Jacob as retribution if anything should happen to Benjamin.
-The brothers had decided to kill Joseph, but sold him into slavery probably thinking he wouldn’t last that long under brutal captivity anyway.
-And here, in response to the accusation that they stole Joseph’s divination cup, the brothers boldly tell the house steward that whoever he finds with the cup shall die and the rest of them shall give themselves up as slaves.
What’s up with this incessant obsession with death?
Notice Joseph’s response.
“Only the man who was found to have the cup will become my slave.
The rest of you, go back to your father in peace.”
Right here we encounter a marked departure from the death-obsessed culture at that time as well as what may be considered the greatest principle in terms of our salvation.
It is that YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE ONLY FOR THE SINS YOU COMMIT!
No one else can pay the price for your sins.
You are not responsible for your mother, father or brother’s sins.
I believe when Joseph responded to his brothers here, in his God-given wisdom, he also inadvertently uttered a statement that reflected this fundamental principle of salvation.
Remember, our God is a God of life, not death.