Garment of Death
"So Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years; and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt."
Over the past few weeks, we've walked beside Joseph through the ups and downs of his life. Out of jealousy over Joseph's favored relationship with their Dad, Joseph's brothers ripped his robe off of him, soiled it with the blood of a goat and threw him into a pit. With his garment of favoritism, they deceived his father, telling him that Joseph was dead. But Joseph wasn't dead. His brothers sold him as a slave to an Egyptian caravan.
In the beginning, Egypt wasn't all that bad for Joseph. Sure, he missed his father and longed for home, but he had a good assignment-watching after Potiphar's household. He'd done well for himself and became head over the entire household. Potiphar didn't keep anything from him, except of course, his wife.
Potiphar's wife had another idea. She found Joseph attractive and made a pass at him. "But Joseph refused. 'Look,' he told her, 'my master trusts me with everything in his entire household.  No one here has more authority than I do! He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I ever do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.'" (Genesis 39:8-9 NLT)
Later, Potiphar's wife wouldn't take "no" for an answer. She clutched onto Joseph and demanded he sleep with her. Joseph didn't. Instead he turned and ran. As he ran from the seductresses' grasp, his clothes tore. Once again, Joseph sat in a "pit"-a prison cell--with his clothes in someone else's hand. This time his brothers did not tear off his clothes. It was his boss's wife. She used the garment of accusation to deceive her husband into thinking that Joseph made a pass at her and he threw Joseph into prison.
Joseph may have thought that he'd lost it all. How could he know that soon God would use him to preserve Egypt and his family through a time of famine? At the time, he probably thought he had nothing. Nothing except his integrity and his faith. But then again, whether you live in Pharaoh's palace or in a prison, what else is there? But Joseph had more than his integrity, he had God's favor. God gave him the ability to interpret the dreams of the baker and the cupbearer when they were in prison. Two years later, the cupbearer advised Pharaoh to send for Joseph to interpret two of Pharaoh's troubling dreams. Joseph interpreted the dreams and suggested that Pharaoh appoint a wise man to administer a savings plan during the seven years of plenty to provide for the nation during the seven years of drought to follow.
Pharaoh followed his advice and appointed Joseph-the man he'd just called out of his prison-to prepare the country for their future. He put his signet ring on Joseph's hand and the garment of exultation on his back. Life progressed just as Joseph predicted. There were seven years of plenty in the land until drought swallowed the prosperity that the Egyptians were enjoying. But because of Joseph, there was still bread in Egypt. He'd stored a portion of the grain, preparing for the difficult days.
It was nine years after Joseph ascended to his position of power that
our story took a fateful twist. Ten of Joseph's brothers-the brothers that
threw him into the pit and sold him into slavery-showed up to ask for grain.
Joseph recognized them, but they didn't recognize him. Joseph immediately
accused them of spying and threw them in prison for three days. Was he
getting even? Not exactly. Three days later, he released all but one of
them, gave them the grain they requested, and even returned their money
to them. He kept one of the brothers in jail to insure they would return
with Benjamin, the brother they told Joseph was still at home with their
aged father. When they returned home, Israel refused to let Benjamin go
to Egypt to secure the release of his other son. But when they ran out
of food-and options-Israel agreed to send Benjamin. This time, Joseph threw
a banquet feast for his brothers and instructed his stewards to give them
the grain they needed, and to insert his special cup into Benjamin's bag.
Soon after they left for home, Joseph sent his men to intercept them, search
through their bags for his cup and when they found it to accuse them of
stealing and bring them back to him.