Skip to main content

Foreshadowing Our Concern

Joseph’s story mirrors what will soon happen to the Israelites. Joseph is imprisoned in Egypt. The Israelites are later enslaved by Pharaoh.

The Torah offers hints of what it is to come. The Book of Genesis foretells the travails of Exodus.

When Joseph realizes that his brothers have changed and this time stand up to protect their younger brother Benjamin rather than selling him into slavery as they did to Joseph earlier, Joseph breaks down and cries. He reveals himself to his brothers, saying, “I am your brother Joseph, he whom you sold into Egypt. Now, do not be distressed or reproach yourselves because you sold me here; it was to save life that God sent me ahead of you.” (Genesis 45)

The Torah relates: “His sobs were so loud that the Egyptians could hear, and so the news reached Pharaoh’s palace.” Hints appear. They point toward later events.

In Exodus we read, “The Israelites were groaning under the bondage and cried out; and their cry for help from the bondage rose up to God.” (Exodus 2)

Look at the contrast. Take note of the hints.

Pharaoh ignores Joseph’s cries. He is indifferent to the Israelites’ pain. He turns aside from the suffering and pain he causes.

God is attuned to our pain. “God looked upon the Israelites, and God took notice of them.”

The Psalmist concurs: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; those crushed in spirit God delivers.” (Psalm 34)

And I am left wondering about these hints.

Are we more like Pharaoh who turns away from the cries around us? And are we likewise responsible for a measure of this suffering?

Or are we more like God who is forever attuned to the multitude of broken hearts?

Let us turn inward and resolve. Can we become more like God? Can we become more attentive to pain?