When Jacob learned that there was grain for sale in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you look at one another?” And he said, “Behold, I have heard that there is grain for sale in Egypt. Go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die.” Genesis 42:1-2
Joseph was 17 years old when his brothers sold him as a slave (37:2), and he was 30 years old when he entered Pharaoh’s service. In addition, there were 7 years of good harvests before the famine that we find here at the beginning of chapter 42.
Put all this together, and more than 20 years had passed since the brothers sold Joseph to the traders. During these 20 years, they had slipped into the worst of all positions. Their sins were forgotten but not forgiven.
No doubt, what they had done would have been on their minds at times, but there was never a time when they came to their father and said, “Dad, we lied to you. Your son was not killed by wild animals. We sold him to traders on their way to Egypt.” There was no confession, and there had been no repentance. The brothers simply moved on.
Here we are 20 years later, and the brothers are working for their father. But for 20 years they have also been lying to the father, deceiving the father, and having repeated the sad story of how their poor brother was so tragically killed by wild beasts to every person who visited the family; they might well have come to believe the story themselves.
Are you troubled by the memory of past sins? Do you have sins that are forgotten but not forgiven? Consider making a confession to the wronged party and bringing this before God in repentance.