It wasn’t the colourful coat
or even Joseph’s dreams that tipped the balance.
Maybe it was the day—too hot,
or maybe just the fact that there was a pit.
If the traders hadn’t happened by
they would have all had supper together,
Reuben’s voice as eldest
would have decided the outcome.
But instead the cup of resentment,
filled drop by drop for years,
is drained in one sudden act of violence.
The deal is done, the money changes hands
and Joseph is on his way to Egypt.
The coat is the cover-up they need.
They find their story in the mind of their father,
anxious about his young son’s solitary journey.
They didn’t even technically lie, only asking,
“Is this your son’s coat?”
The one thing the brothers hadn’t counted on
was their father’s grief;
it’s expansiveness, its power to grow in their lives,
like a seedling in the crack of a rock.
In Egypt we find that Judah is a changed man.
It wasn’t being thrown in jail that did it,
or the misfortune of the mysterious stolen cup.
It’s not the trips back and forth, carrying money and grain.
The seed of remorse was rooted in him,
watered by years of Jacob’s tears,
and it blossoms suddenly as he bargains for his brother’s life,
as he tries to give his own to save his father,
who cannot survive another season of grief.
When the Egyptian ruler speaks their language
with the shocking words, ‘My brothers…”,
they see him shapeshift from bejeweled foreigner
into Joseph, their own flesh and blood.
Risen from the grave of Egypt,
his presence haunts them with forgiveness.
Even at their father’s death the brothers still fear Joseph.
Their long-done deed aches like an old wound
in the deep heart’s core,
untouched by Joseph’s healing words,
the tears he weeps.