(Genesis 43.11 & 45.9)
Myrrh or Lot = Ladanum (Cistus incanus; C. laurifolius; C. ladaniferus). The Rock Rose.
Reference to this type of myrrh, better known as lot occurs just twice in Scripture. The other occasion is in Genesis 37.25 when, 22 years earlier, a caravan of Ishmeelites from Gilead, to whom Joseph was sold by his brothers, was on its way the Egypt to sell their wares which included lot.
The Cistus plant is a different genus to the well-known Myrrh (Commiphora abyssinica). It is a low growing evergreen shrub bearing pretty five-petal flowers, the colours of which differ according to species. The growth shoots of the shrub exude the gum lot that is collected by dragging leather thongs over the bush. The gum is then scraped from the thongs and moulded into thin rolls ready for sale. Lot is burned like incense; the fragrant, disinfecting cloud sweetens and cleanses the atmosphere of rooms and houses.
Because God was ever with Joseph, his presence in Pharaohs palace had a unique disinfecting and cleansing effect on the entire establishment, both in administration and on the environment. Once Josephs brothers confessed to the heinous crime committed against their brother, they found the disposition of Joseph was such that it had a disinfecting and purifying effect on their hearts, consciences, and minds. Furthermore, because of all that Joseph had said to the brothers, they were now at ease in his presence. Joseph had filled them with a glorious hope; they could now relax in the peaceful, pure, and fragrant environment created by the one they had once rejected.
As the Lord Jesus moved among the people, He left in His wake a fragrant, cleansing influence that changed for the better the lives of those who were genuinely exercised by His presence. When our Lord was in the house of Simon the Pharisee for a meal, there entered a woman who "was a sinner" (Lk 7.36-38). The woman was broken down with tears of repentance for she had recognised One who could cleanse her morally. The woman first refreshed the Lord by washing His feet with tears; she then wiped the Lords feet with her hair to show she had surrendered that aspect of her life that attracted wanton paramours: her future life would be in the service of the Lord. Finally, she displayed the spirit of worship by anointing His feet with fragrant ointment. The Lord took possession of the womans heart to shut out corrupting influences. Although Simon had prepared a table to set before the Lord, we may safely say that the table at which the Lord sat was in the heart of the penitent woman (Rev 3.20).
In Pauls letter to the Colossian Christians he says, "Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man" (Col 4.6). Our conversation with the world should always be with the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to effect a cleansing influence on everything of a corrupting nature. We should ever be like the burning lot to generate a fragrant, cleansing and disinfecting effect on all around.
Nuts Pistachio (Pistacia vera)
Genesis 43.11 is the only reference in Scripture to the pistachio nut. Pistacia vera is a small, deciduous, bushy tree about 4-6m (13-20 ft) high, producing an abundance of ovoid fruits 2cm (0.75ins) long. The edible nut develops within a brittle two-valve shell that is cracked open after harvesting to release the kernel. The nuts were and still are a great delicacy in Middle Eastern countries and were always offered to important guests. As far as Jacob was concerned, the ruler of all Egypt was a very important person and only the very best of the choice fruits he had at his disposal would be good enough. In due course, the nation of Israel will learn that only the very best of those things they treasure most will be suitable as an offering to God. The pistachio nut (kernel) speaks of what is in our hearts (the evidence of eternal life and divine love that is shed abroad by the Holy Spirit) that is suitable for God.
Joseph was, in figure, very much like the kernel of the pistachio nut. The brothers had looked on the outside of the whole fruit and not taken account of the inside of Joseph, i.e. his heart. While still living with the family in Canaan, Joseph held a unique place in the affections of his father, and this generated bitterness and envy in the hearts of his brothers (Gen 37.3-4). Josephs life was committed, not to pleasing himself, but to doing his fathers will, being wholly one with him in thought, word, and deed. The best gift Joseph gave to his father was his life and hearts affection the very kernel of his being.
Joseph was acutely aware of the envy and bitterness of his brothers toward him, yet he took no evasive action. He was probably a strong, athletic person who easily could have outrun his older brothers to escape their evil intent, had he so wished. But he remained steadfast, faithfully fulfilling the mission on which his father had sent him. Josephs imploring appeal to his brothers when they cast him into the pit (Gen 42.21) should have convicted them as to the gravity of their heinous crime, but it did not. It was some 22 years later that the brothers, now humbled in Josephs presence, broke down with repentance and grief for what they had done (Gen 45.3). At last, the brothers were now morally suitable to benefit from the special gift Joseph had ready for them, i.e. the deep and sincere affection of his heart. But more than this, because of Josephs faithfulness, and God working out His will through Pharaoh, the entire family would dwell in Goshen, the best and most choice area in Egypt.
To be continued.