Saturday, May 15, 2010

Reuben's Quest for Food

By Mary Vee
Genesis 42:1-6

Reuben swallowed the smaller than usual dinner. He turned to his brother, Simeon. “The food won’t last much longer.”

“I know.”

Jacob slammed down his cup. “My sons, don’t think my ears are so old to prevent me from hearing you. We’ve all know about the grain Egyptians gathered the past seven years. Must I tell you everything? When are you going to take charge and solve problems? Take money and go buy grain for us before we starve.”

Reuben sighed. “But, Father, the Egyptians. They'd rather die than associate with us.”
Jacob shook his head. “That's a chance you must risk. If you don't we'll starve. Take your brothers. Most likely each person can only buy grain for one family.“

“We’ll leave first thing in the morning, Father.” Reuben left the dinner and walked to his tent.

Jacob called out, “Don’t take Benjamin. I don’t want to lose another son.” Reuben turned back.

Benjamin’s eyes grew wide. He ran to his father and fell to his knees. "Dad, please? You never let me do anything fun. I promise to do everything Reuben says if you only let me go.”

Jacob held up his hand. “I have spoken.”

The silence grew deafening.

The next morning Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, and Zebulun left for Egypt. Along the way they met many other travelers seeking to buy grain for their families. As they grew closer to Egypt they found more people on the road.

Simeon stirred the coals at the campfire. “This errand will take us twice as long if we must deal with all the people on the road.”

Levi leaned against a rock and yawned. “There’ll be long lines once we get there, too.”

Sure enough, the next day dragged as they petered along the road to Egypt. Somehow they managed to get stuck behind a large family. The brothers tried all day to get pass the family, but failed. The next morning Reuben woke everyone early to get ahead of slow travelers.

Once they arrived at the city, they followed the crowd to the distribution center. Dan poked Issachar. “Look at the buildings—magnificent--and how the people are dressed--unusual. I've never seen such a city.”

Issachar held his hands over his ears. “Too many people talking--that music--It’s too noisy! I’d much rather be in the pasture with the sheep--at least they are more quiet.”

They turned a corner and found a massive group of men, women, and children standing in lines waiting to buy food. An Egyptian stood at the entrance barking orders.

Reuben shook his head. “I can’t understand him, can any of you?”

Judah shrugged. “He’s pointing to that line. Let’s go there.”

The ten brothers stood in line for hours. They couldn’t understand the language of people standing near. After a while, they grew hungry and thirsty. At long last they reached the front of the line.

The governor of the land stood near the tables. He watched his workers, giving directions and granting special permissions. He answered one worker’s question with authority. No one questioned his word. Reuben noticed the governor staring at him and his brothers. “Why is he looking at us like that?”

Simeon wiggled his eyebrows up and down. “Probably because he‘s jealous of our nice clothes.”

Reuben laughed, but then glanced at the regal governor. His heart pounded in his chest as his eyes met the official’s. Are we in trouble? Have we offended him? He flung around to face his brothers. “Quick bow before the governor.”

Who was this governor and why did he stare at Reuben and his brothers? Will the brothers be able to buy food or will they be thrown into jail? Have you ever been someplace that made you feel unsafe? What did you do? If you still feel uncomfortable about a certain place, be sure to talk with your parents about the situation.

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