Benjamin: The Favored Son
Posted by Douglas, May 20, 2008. 2431 views. ID = 1323
This post was written in 63 minutes.
|This post has been awarded 16 stars by 4 readers.|
|This post is Part 13 of a writing series titled Joseph's Story.|
My brothers behaved as though it was no big deal to be headed back to Egypt again. They laughed and joked and sang among themselves as the caravan moved south, but I could tell there was tension in every laugh, and nervousness in every song.
My feelings were mixed. Unlike my brothers, who had been to Egypt before, I had never seen the massive, fortified city and the strange, incomprehensible people of Egypt. I couldn't wait to see these wondrous sights. On the other hand, my father's fears had put an uneasy edge to my excitement. Wonderful things could happen in Egypt, but terrible things could happen as well.
Just don't think about Simeon, and don't think about Egyptian prisons.
My brothers hardly spoke to me during the course of the journey. When they did address me it was to say things like, "This is where we will stop for the night," or "Go fetch some wood for the fire."
I wasn't surprised; my ten oldest brothers never saw me as one of them. The great chasm that lay between them and me was my dead brother Joseph. With Joseph gone, they see me as "Daddy's Golden Boy" - the favored youngest son. They treat me with far less open hostility than they treated my older brother, but I still can tell that they don't like me very much.
When we arrived in the capital city of Egypt, my brothers laughed at my naive astonishment, but I didn't care. I had never seen such extraordinary buildings that stretched so tall toward the sky. I had never seen such strangely dressed - and in some cases strangely painted - people in my entire life. What an amazing thing it must be to live in such a wonderful place.
"Come, Benjamin," Judah said, not unkindly. "There will be plenty of time to see the sights before we leave. But we must go to the ruler of this land to buy grain." As an afterthought, he added, "Say as little as possible, Benjamin, and do nothing to attract any undue attention."
When we walked into Zaphenath-peneah's reception hall, the great man recognized my brothers immediately. This surprised me. Surely the ruler met hundreds of people every day; my brothers must have made quite an impression on him to be remembered on sight after so many months had passed. His fierce, penetrating stare passed from one brother to another until he had looked at each of the ten brothers in turn, then his gaze fell on me. I tried my very best to return his stare, but something about the way he looked at me made me very uneasy. I looked away before he did.
Then the ruler spoke to one of his servants quietly enough that none of us could hear. The servant bowed before him, and then motioned for us to follow him. In silence the servant led us out of the great hall and down the street to a building that I could only describe as a palace. Surely it was a home fit for a pharaoh!
As we approached the palace, the servant advised us: "You are a guest in the home of Zaphenath-peneah; see that you do not touch anything."Guests?
I was excited at the thought of being guests of the great ruler, but my brothers looked very unhappy. "After all," Reuben explained to me softly, "Simeon has also been a guest
of Zaphenath-peneah. And this Egyptian ruler has no reason to expend any great love or favor on us, either."
I remembered, then, the story that my brothers had told upon their return home after the last visit, how they had opened their grain bags to discover that every coin they had brought with them to pay for the grain had been mysteriously returned to their sacks.
Judah spoke up in the Egyptian language, addressing the steward who was leading us. "My lord," he said, "when we returned from Egypt the last time, we were horrified to discover that every coin we had paid for the grain was in our grain sacks. We did not steal the money, and we do not know how it got there. We have brought all that money with us, along with more money to purchase grain. We are not thieves."
The steward laughed, and it seemed to be a friendly laugh. "Don't be afraid. You have stolen nothing. The money you found in your sacks must have been a gift from your God, because I keep careful records, and your money certainly never left the treasuries of Egypt."
Then, as though to prove his good will, the steward said, "Wait here, for I have a surprise for you." We looked at one another with disquiet in our hearts as the steward left us there at the entrance to the ruler's palace. Our unease turned to unadulterated joy, however, when the steward returned leading our long lost brother Simeon. There was a great deal of laughter and hugging, and many brotherly kisses were exchanged. Simeon even had a kiss for me, which spoke volumes for the loneliness he had experienced in an Egyptian prison.
The steward then led us inside the palace and provided water to wash ourselves in preparation for the noon meal. "Zaphenath-peneah will be joining you for lunch," the steward informed us.
This announcement did nothing to ease my brothers' concerns; even after the release of Simeon from prison, they were distrustful. We stood awkwardly about, waiting for the man to arrive, and every moment that passed made us more and more uneasy.
At last he arrived, and we were brought before him. My brothers and I approached him slowly, carrying gifts from our homeland, and we all bowed low before him. The ruler graciously accepted our gifts and then said, "Tell me, when you were here before you spoke of an aged father. Is he alive, and well?"
My brothers assured the man that our father was well.
"And this boy," the Egyptian said, turning in his chair to face me directly, "this is the younger brother you spoke of?" Then without even waiting for an answer he spoke to me. "May God be gracious to you, my son." I was astonished at the gentle tone of his words, and even more than that, I sensed that he was giving me the blessing of the Hebrew God, not of the Egyptian gods.
As I turned to look at my brothers, I saw that they looked very unhappy. At first I thought it was the same old jealousy that had always come between us, but then I realized their unhappiness came from great fear. They did not like the fact that this powerful Egyptian man was taking a special interest in me; he had the power to detain me just as he had detained Simeon. No wonder Judah had advised me to remain silent.
The Egyptian left the room then, probably to check on final meal preparations, then returned to us and instructed his servants to serve the meal. When the servants led us to the table, a shock awaited us: we were seated, all eleven of us, exactly in order of our age, with the oldest at the head of the table, right down to me at the very end. How could they have possibly known the order of eleven sons?
But the worst shock of all was this: my plate was heaped high with five times as much food as anyone else's. My brothers looked first at their own plates, and then at mine. As we considered what this strange bit of favoritism might mean, fear settled over all of us like a cold, wet blanket.
I fear that I shall never be permitted to leave this land.Copyright 2008 Douglas. All rights reserved. FifteenMinutesOfFiction.com has been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work. For permission to reprint this item, please contact the author.
|This post has been awarded 16 stars by 4 readers.|
|This post is Part 13 of a writing series titled Joseph's Story. The next part of this series can be found here: The Steward: Cruel Mind Games.|
|This is a revised version of a post. Click here to view the original version
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