My Payback

Genesis 42

6Now Joseph was governor over the land; it was he who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground. 7When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he said. They said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.” 8Although Joseph had recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. 9Joseph also remembered the dreams that he had dreamed about them. He said to them, “You are spies; you have come to see the nakedness of the land!” 10They said to him, “No, my lord; your servants have come to buy food. 11We are all sons of one man; we are honest men; your servants have never been spies.” 12But he said to them, “No, you have come to see the nakedness of the land!” 13They said, “We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of a certain man in the land of Canaan; the youngest, however, is now with our father, and one is no more.” 14But Joseph said to them, “It is just as I have said to you; you are spies! 15Here is how you shall be tested: as Pharaoh lives, you shall not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here! 16Let one of you go and bring your brother, while the rest of you remain in prison, in order that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you; or else, as Pharaoh lives, surely you are spies.” 17And he put them all together in prison for three days.

The other night, Shannon and I watched the movie “Payback” with Mel Gibson. I don’t think she enjoyed it much, but it is one of my favorite films of his. He plays an unlikable thief named Porter out for revenge against the man who stole $70k from him and his ex-wife who shot him in the back. He goes to ridiculous lengths to get his money back, tracing it all the way back to the head of a crime outfit. He leaves a lot of dead bodies behind and significant property damage. It’s a delicious revenge fantasy. 

It’s easy to imagine that Joseph was ready for a little payback against his brothers. He has power and he has his brothers at his mercy. Let’s face it, he could have revealed himself to his brothers immediately, given them provisions and eliminated about seven chapters from Genesis, but he doesn’t. He lets his brothers dangle and tortures them a bit. Delicious! 

There are moments when I wish I could be Joseph at this point; he has power over those who have hurt him and the ability to leave them in prolonged agony. Don’t tell me you’ve never thought about such a circumstance! I confess that I think s out this a lot these days. Then I think of all of those who might be wishing the same of me. I think of those who actually have taken revenge on me and how it doesn’t seem to satisfy them. I’m not sure why Joseph didn’t just come clean with his family, but ultimately he wanted his brothers to be well. I pray that can be my wish for all who have hurt me as well as all who I have hurt. 

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