Joseph’s (OT) Model of Forgiveness

An old post of mine:

Date Posted: 09:12:11 09/18/03 Thu
Author: Joe
Subject: Joseph’s (OT) model of forgiveness

I’ve been thinking about Joseph in Genesis and the way he dealt with his brothers when they were at his mercy in Egypt. Why didn’t he–to use the modern cliche–“just forgive and forget?” Why did he choose to subject his brothers to such trials in Egypt? […though he had probably already forgiven them. (Genesis 50:19-21)] Because he wanted to see whether they had changed or whether they would change? The more important question for me is–and I know it’s hypothetical–what would Joseph have done if he saw that his brothers had not changed or would not change? Whatever the answer, it’s clear that Joseph’s model of forgiveness is different from the one that most of us have been taught.

This prompts more questions. What is the real purpose of forgiveness? What does forgiveness do for the forgiver and for the one(s) being forgiven? Some more difficult questions: What good do repeated words of forgiveness do for the one who does not see or feel any need to be forgiven? Does forgiving someone mean absolving them of the consequences of their sin(s) against you? (David & Bathsheba’s ‘love child’ dies. Your parents forgive you but ground you anyway.) What to do when repeated words of forgiveness only seem to embolden someone to repeat their patterns of harmful behavior to themselves and to others?

I’ve come to realize that forgiving, besides being not easy to do, is not as simple a thing as it’s made out to be. Forgiveness, biblical forgiveness, is complex. More on this later.

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