Because of the famine, my brothers came to Egypt.
O Egypt, My Egypt!
Country of paradox
Cultivated yet wild
Lush yet barren
Ancient yet new
My prison, my refuge, my kingdom
My sons have known no other place.
To my firstborn I gave the name Manas’seh, to mean:
The Lord has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.
To my second born, I gave the name E’phraim, to mean:
The Lord has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction
What do my brothers know of this place?
They arrive confused
Bewildered by the sights
Dazzled by what is cosmopolitan and vast
Puzzled by the language
The crush of people from every nation
Overwhelmed and afraid
To them, my heart goes out
I know them
I see them
But they cannot imagine I am here
Their security is in my hands
And I am fiercely watchful
I know their comings and goings
They shall receive everything I can give them
And as for Benjamin
Fully my own flesh and blood
What will I not do for him?
Everything they see
Everything they touch
Everything they hear
This is all within my control
My thoughts and my wishes become the reality
Which surrounds them
But they see me not
They know nothing of my care
Who was it who directed that their sacks be filled nearly to bursting?
Who was it who directed that all their money be returned untouched?
They know nothing of my love
They cannot imagine the depth of the love
In the heart of the one they condemned to death
The one they sold into slavery
As if worthless
Now they enter my city
They are tired and they are hungry
My stewards invite them to my home
And they are frightened at being so directed
They speak among themselves
“Now the man will seize us!”
“He thinks we stole from him!”
My steward reassures them
And brings Simeon into their presence
Yet still they tremble to know that I will arrive at noon
Ah! To them, I am “the Man”
I am nameless
Yet they bow to me
When I arrive
I survey them
Here is Benjamin
He dares not look me in the eye
Benjamin, do you not know me?
We have the same mother!
We were born of the same womb!
But he knows me not
I say to them,
Is this the one?
Is this the youngest of whom you spoke?
Why do I ask?
I pretend to not know my own flesh and blood
They answer that he is
Yes, this is Benjamin, your servant
God be gracious to you, my son
But it is too much
It is too much
I excuse myself
I weep for Benjamin
I weep for myself
I weep for the past
Our long separation
Our broken youth
He was but fifteen when I was taken
They are seated now
But not at my table
An Egyptian man does not dine with a Hebrew man
As if the blood which runs through me is not as theirs
But to their table
From my own,
Food is carried again and again
They are amazed by the richness of the dishes
Meats, breads of fine flour, and every delicacy
Fruits familiar and exotic
During a time of famine
Each has his fill
And Benjamin is given five times the portions
As if I can feed him food enough for our twenty lost years
The wine flows
And my brothers begin to lose their fear
They talk with me
And I pretend that I need my interpreter
As if we did not learn to speak under the same roof
I speak Egyptian to my steward
Fill their sacks to the brim with as much as they can carry
Return their money
It will be with the grain
And while they are asleep
I direct something else
Take my silver cup
Place it into the sack of Benjamin
Blogger, you will say that I was deceitful
You will say that my plan was wrong
But can you understand?
How could I bear to see him leave?
To my steward, I speak thus:
Tomorrow, after they leave,
Charge them with the theft of my cup
Direct that the thief must stay with me
Such was my plan
My plans always achieve fulfillment
And I had imagined how I would speak
Full of consternation, my brothers returned to me
I had not seen them as stricken with terror
As when they returned to me
Confused by their guilt
One brother and the next
Protesting and tearing at his clothes
Weeping and asking for mercy
Did I not weep like this
Did I not beg for mercy like this
Was I not innocent too?
Blogger, was I wrong to do this?
I fear you will say that I was
But I have already suffered,
And all of Egypt has heard my weeping.
I listened as Judah spoke
He spoke of my father
My father, whom I have not seen for twenty years
And as he filled my ears with the words spoken by my father,
I could not contain myself
“My wife bore me two sons
One left me
Torn to pieces in a field
I have never seen him since
If you take
If you take this one
If harm befalls him
Then to Sheol I will go
It is too much!
But I cannot even excuse myself
With a loud cry
Such as is heard through the house of Pharaoh himself
I begin to weep
I am no longer the governor
I am only Joseph
Joseph son of Jacob