“And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them…” (Genesis 42:7)

Joseph had come a long way. He had gone from being sold by his brothers to the slave trading block, then to Potiphar’s house, then to prison, and finally to the governorship of the mighty nation of Egypt, and God’s hand was on him the whole time.

Now the seven year famine had begun. People were flocking to Egypt for food. One day ten men show up. Joseph knows them, but they don’t know him.  Joseph knows their language but speaks Egyptian through an interpreter. He is not friendly. Genesis 42:7 says that he “spake roughly unto them.”

Picture this scene: Joseph asked why the men were there. The interpreter asked them in their language why they came. They say they want food. The interpreter translated their words into Egyptian for Joseph. He glared at them and told the interpreter that they were spies. The interpreter told the brothers, “The governor said that you men are spies.” The brothers were scared and insisted that they came for food.

Joseph wasn’t playing head games with his brothers. God was using him to deal with their hearts and make them see that they didn’t just need food—more importantly, they needed forgiveness. Joseph’s unfriendly approach to them was very sensible. He wanted to forgive them, but for all he knew, they were only there for food and were still the same cold-hearted men that sold him into slavery.

Here’s an interesting application for police work: when you meet a possible suspect in a serious crime, don’t be afraid to “speak roughly.” That doesn’t mean that you swear and act abusively.  It means that you’re no-nonsense. Say you’re called to a “male with a gun,” and you find someone who fits the description. Don’t be “Officer Friendly.” Be on your tactical “A” game. He may have a gun and may be willing to use it on you. If he whines about you harassing him, let him whine. His whining may just be a stall tactic while he tries to figure out how to escape, pull out his gun, or grab yours.

Approach him like you mean business, with your words and body language. Give short, simple, direct orders: “Hands up,” “Don’t run,” “Hands on the car,” “Spread your feet.” Take a tactical stance. Protect your gun side. WATCH HIS HANDS. Secure him. He may be scared, but if he’s the bad guy and you make him scared to attack, that’s good.

If he turns out not to be the bad guy, you can explain why you did what you did, and even apologize—not because you did wrong, but because he suffered some indignity. “Sorry for the tough approach, but we’re looking for a guy with a gun. Thank you for cooperating.” Most people understand why police do what they do, so if a “possible suspect” turns out to be innocent, try to end the encounter as positively as you can. There is a time to be cordial, but there is also a time to “speak roughly.”

Did you ever expect to find information like that in the Bible? This information about Joseph “speaking roughly” to his brothers is there for a reason. The Bible isn’t just some religious book of “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots.” God gave it to be our guide for life, “a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105). You’ll be amazed at what you’ll find in God’s Word if you’ll just take the time to read from it.

God has ways of providing for people’s needs, and He uses His Word to do so. Man’s biggest need is to know how to have a home in heaven. If you want to see how, please go to click “How do I go to Heaven?” on the sidebar.


Brian Miller 5/27/2015

Cleveland Baptist Church 4431 Tiedeman Road, Brooklyn, Ohio 44144 216/671-2822