May-June 2022 - Joseph Embracing Benjamin

May 1, 2022 by Erin Pearce
Artist: Yoram Raanan (Israel, Contemporary)

Yoram Raanan’s work, Joseph Embracing Benjamin, uses broad brushstrokes and simple lines to draw our eyes to Joseph embracing Benjamin as their brothers look on. Raanan paints the brothers huddled together. One can imagine they are speaking quickly to one another and leaning on each other as they process the information: their brother Joseph — whom they sold into slavery and assumed was long gone — is alive, standing in front of them in a position of power, welcoming them.

Raanan captures a moment in a story filled with complex motives and emotions — betrayal, return, economic instability, vulnerability, joy, and fear. In his artist statement, Raanan says, “My work expresses something inexplicable — feeling, sensation, emotion, and spirituality. The various levels and layers of paint correspond to different possible interpretations of the work. This presents an opportunity for new ways of seeing and understanding the familiar — [a] refreshing form of communication that enhances the experience of ordinary life.”*

Overwhelmingly, the scene conveys a sense of relief. With his embrace of Benjamin, Joseph signals that the events of the past do not have to define the future. After a tense time, the brothers can breathe again, trusting that they can move forward together to face the challenges that lie ahead.

As you reflect on the story and look at the painting, what emotions surface? What or whom is God inviting you to embrace with a spirit of welcome and forgiveness in this season?


Cover image courtesy of Yoram Raanan. © 2020 Yoram Raanan. Prints of cover art are available from

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