Best. Party. Ever.
The attendants served Joseph by himself, and his brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians could not eat with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians. – Genesis 43:32 (NRSV)
This dinner party was going to be awkward.
Joseph has been messing with his brothers. And to be clear, they had it coming: these are the brothers who sold Joseph into slavery. But now the tables have turned. Joseph is the right-hand man to the Pharaoh, and his brothers are helpless.
What does Joseph do? Invites them to a fancy dinner party, of course! Because this is a comedy. And no comedy is complete without a fancy dinner party going awry.
The brothers think Joseph is an Egyptian, so they sit apart from one who is truly kin. The Egyptians think Joseph is one of them, so they happily tuck in alongside one they consider an “abomination.”
The charade soon collapses, of course. Joseph reveals his true identity, and goblets drop to the floor alongside the jaws of all present. Then the Egyptians can laugh at the folly of prejudice; their boss is a Hebrew so they have to rethink this abomination stuff. The brothers can laugh in the end, too; mercy allows them to repair the irreparable.
It’s all a bit of a miracle. All from one dinner!
When it’s safe for your community, I recommend a potluck ASAP. Breaking bread breaks down barriers. The wealthiest man in town can still wind up with mustard on his tie. The jittery visitor nursing a hangover can roll up their sleeves and do a few dishes. The youth group kid who doesn’t fit in can carry nine chairs, it turns out.
It’s all a bit of a miracle.
God, could we have potlucks back? Please?
John Edgerton is Lead Pastor at First United Church of Oak Park, Illinois.