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When Jacob saw that there
was grain in Egypt, Jacob said to his sons, 'Why do you look at
another?' And he said, 'Indeed I have heard that there is grain in
Egypt; go down to that place and buy
for us there, that we may live and
not die.' So Joseph's ten brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt.
Jacob did not send Joseph's brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he
said, 'Lest some calamity befall him.' And the sons of Israel went to
buy grain among those who journeyed, for the famine was in the land of
Canaan. Now Joseph was governor over the land; and it was he who sold
to all the people of the land. And Joseph's
brothers came and bowed
down before him with their faces to the earth. Joseph saw his
and recognized them, but he acted as a stranger to them and spoke
roughly to them. Then he said to them, 'Where do you come from?' And
they said, 'From the land of Canaan to buy food.' So Joseph recognized
his brothers, but they did not recognize him.
Jacob now had a new favorite. Benjamin
had taken Joseph's place in his heart. So, he kept Benjamin safely at
home with him, while he sent the rest of his sons off to Egypt to
acquire food. Notice the sarcasm with which he spoke to them as he sent
them on their way. My, how parents need reminding to take special care
in how they speak to their children. Parents are the most important
people in a child’s life and repeated angry, negative and cutting
remarks can do a lot of damage. Verbal abuse can be more damaging than
physical abuse. One psychologist likened such repeated negativity to
pouring acid on a child. Not only does it hurt them, but it can leave
deep and abiding scars. Jacob's sons experienced some of this as he
sent them away on their trip. How
much better it would have been had he blessed them, encouraged them,
told them he loved them and would be praying for them, aye?
So, driven by famine, the sons of Jacob arrived in Egypt and,
unbeknownst to them, appeared before their Joseph. The account here
says that they bowed down before him with their faces to the earth.
Joseph's dream, which had caused so much trouble with these brothers,
was beginning to be fulfilled to the letter (37:5-8). Joseph, of
course, recognized them immediately but they didn’t recognize him.
There were probably several reasons for this. First, they hadn’t seen
him since he was teenager and they all had faded memories of him. Then,
he was much older now ... in his late thirties (41:46). In addition, he
spoke the Egyptian language to them through an interpreter (v.23). And,
finally, he was all decked out in the elaborate attire of an Egyptian
ruler … no doubt, complete with facial paint, braided hair, jewelry and
all the accoutrements of his office. The last thing on earth that would
have crossed their minds was that this was their brother, Joseph. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Then Joseph remembered
the dreams which he had dreamed about them, and said to them, 'You are
spies! You have come to see the nakedness of the land!' And they
to him, 'No, my lord, but your servants have come to buy food. We are
all one man's sons; we are honest men; your servants are not spies.'
But he said to them, 'No, but you have come to see the nakedness of the
land.' And they said, 'Your servants are twelve brothers, the sons of
one man in the land of Canaan; and in fact, the youngest is with our
father today, and one is no more.'
But Joseph said to them, 'It is as I
spoke to you, saying, "You are spies!" In
this manner you shall be
tested: By the life of Pharaoh, you shall not leave this place unless
your youngest brother comes here. Send one of you, and let him bring
your brother; and you shall be kept in prison, that your words
tested to see whether there is any truth in you; or else, by the life
of Pharaoh, surely you are spies!' So he
put them all together in
prison three days. Then Joseph said to them the third day, 'Do
live, for I fear God: If you are honest men, let one of your
be confined to your prison house; but you, go and carry grain
famine of your houses. And bring your
youngest brother to me; so your
words will be verified, and you shall not die.' And they did so.
How Joseph's heart must have been moved when his brothers spoke to him of the one who is no more!
Doubtless, he had many questions about his brothers and he carefully
began examining them. Had they changed? Were they sorry for what they
had done? Did they ever think about him? How did they treat his little
Quickly, Joseph devised a plan. Speaking to them roughly, he said … You are spies!
Boy … that must have really caught them flat footed! Immediately, and
vociferously, they began to object. But, to no avail. Joseph said they
would have to prove there was indeed another son by producing him. One of you, he said, will have to go and get him and bring him to Egypt. The rest would have to remain until the alleged youngest brother arrived. Then, he promptly put them all in prison.
This had to have been a first for the sons of Jacob. Suddenly, they
were given a taste of what Joseph had had to endure for years on end.
However, after only three days, Joseph released them and informed them that he had changed his mind about keeping them all in Egypt. Instead, he said he would just keep one
of them until they returned with their little brother. By the way, did
you catch that very first hint that Joseph gave them as to who he was?
It was when he said to them, I fear God.
Then they said to one
another, 'We are truly guilty
concerning our brother, for we saw the
anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear;
therefore this distress has come upon us.' And Reuben answered them,
saying, 'Did I not speak to you,
saying, "Do not sin against the boy";
and you would not listen? Therefore behold, his blood is now required
of us.' But they did not know that Joseph understood them, for
to them through an interpreter. And he
turned himself away from them
and wept. Then he returned to them again, and talked with them.
took Simeon from them and bound him before their eyes.
With this dialogue between his brothers, many of Joseph's questions
were being answered. Understanding their language, he knew what they
were saying to each other. But, since they had been speaking to him
through an interpreter, they had no idea that he understood their
native Hebrew tongue. Clearly, Joseph's brothers were sorry for what
they had done. The memory of their little brother’s pleadings was
seared on their memories and had been bothering their consciences for
years. Reuben told his brothers that all their present trouble had come
upon them because of their sin against Joseph saying … his blood is now required of us. Obviously, Reuben believed in divine retribution.
At these words, Joseph was compelled to leave their presence and he went out and wept. What an emotionally charged encounter this was! After he regained his composure, he returned to his brothers and chose Simeon
as the one to be left behind as a pledge of their truthfulness and
sincerity. Then, he commanded him to be bound in front of them. You
will remember that Simeon was the second of Leah’s first 4 sons ...
Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah. So, doubtless, Simeon and Reuben were
close and Judah was the one who had hatched the scheme to sell Joseph
into slavery (37:26). Joseph was really testing these sons of Leah but,
more importantly, God was at work. Not only was God dealing with the
hearts of these men, but he was also working out his sovereign plan to
move Israel (Jacob) and all of his house to Egypt. His will and
purposes were right on track and they were unstoppable.
Then Joseph gave a command to fill their
sacks with grain, to restore every man's money to his sack, and to give
them provisions for the journey. Thus he did for them. So they
their donkeys with the grain and departed from there. But as one of
them opened his sack to give his donkey feed at the encampment, he saw
his money; and there it was, in the mouth of his sack. So he
his brothers, 'My money has been
restored, and there it is, in my
sack!' Then their hearts failed them and they were afraid, saying to
one another, 'What is this that God has done to us?'
Once again, the guilt that
Joseph’s brothers were carrying … combined with their haunting belief
in the principle of divine retribution … came bubbling to the top. The
mysterious appearance of their money in their grain bags seemed to be
nothing short of supernatural and abject panic came upon them all. What has God done to us?,
they asked one another. Now, they concluded, they would not only be
suspected of being liars and spies but thieves as well! The furthest
thing from their minds was that their money had actually been restored
to them. Joseph had returned their money simply because it belonged to
his father and he wanted, at long last, to be able to just bless him.
Then they went to Jacob
their father in the land of Canaan and told him all that had happened
to them, saying: 'The man who is lord of the land spoke roughly
and took us for spies of the country. But we said to him, "We are
honest men; we are not spies. We are twelve brothers, sons of our
father; one is no more, and the youngest is with our father this day in
the land of Canaan." Then the man, the lord of the country, said to us,
"By this I will know that you are honest men: Leave one of your
brothers here with me, take food for the famine of your
be gone. And bring your youngest
brother to me; so I shall know
you are not spies, but that you are honest men. I will grant your
brother to you, and you may trade in the land.'" Then it
they emptied their sacks, that surprisingly each man's bundle of money
was in his sack; and when they and their father saw the bundles of
money, they were afraid. And Jacob their
father said to them, 'You have
bereaved me: Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and you want to take
Benjamin. All these things are against me.' Then Reuben spoke to
father, saying, 'Kill my two sons if I do not bring him back to you;
put him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you.' But he said,
'My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is
left alone. If any calamity should befall him along the way in which
you go, then you would bring down my gray hair with sorrow to the
When the brothers arrived home, they delivered their sad report to
Jacob. And, to say that he didn’t receive it well, is an
understatement. However, Reuben pressed his father to allow them to
take Benjamin back to Egypt. Reuben's blood brother, Simeon, was
precious to him, you see. But Jacob adamantly refused. He told them
that Benjamin was the last of his two sons by Rachel, and if anything
were to happen to him, it would literally kill him.
There may also have been more going on here than meets the eye. Jacob may have said, No,
to Reuben, because of the bad blood that existed between them.
Something may well have been festering in their relationship … namely …
Reuben had slept with his concubine, Bilhah (35:22). Such deep and
serious breaches in relationships tend to never die and they taint
almost every conversation. Perhaps Jacob felt that if Reuben lost his
brother, Simeon, it would serve him right. Bad blood between fathers
and sons is a very hard thing. Too bad they weren’t able to get
counseling and work this out between them. Then, they could have looked
at what happened, and why, and might have been able to forgive one
another and be reconciled. Is there something that has seriously
scarred your relationship with a parent or family member, dear reader?
Get help. God is able to help you overcome anything … if you are
willing to face the problem squarely. Anything, you ask? Yes, anything.
Behold, I am the LORD,
the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me? Jeremiah 32:27
Now the famine was severe
in the land. And it came to pass, when they had eaten up the grain
which they had brought from Egypt, that their father said to them, ‘Go
back, buy us a little food.’ But Judah spoke to him, saying, ‘The man
solemnly warned us, saying, ‘You shall not see my face unless your
brother is with you.’ If you send our brother with us, we will
and buy you food. But if you will not send him, we will not go down;
for the man said to us, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother
is with you.’ And Israel said, ‘Why did you deal so wrongfully with me
as to tell the man whether you had still another brother?’ But they
said, ‘The man asked us pointedly
about ourselves and our family,
saying, “Is your father still alive? Have you another brother?’”
told him according to these words. Could we possibly have known that he
would say, 'Bring your brother down'?
After some time, the Jacob family ran out of food again and they found
between the Devil and the deep blue
sea. In frustration, Jacob resorted
to playing the blame game. Why in
the world did you tell him you had
another brother?, he demanded. The
man asked us point blank, they replied. How were
we to know he would require us to bring Benjamin to Egypt?
Then Judah said to Israel
his father, "Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go,
may live and not die, both we and you and also our little ones. ‘I
myself will be surety for him; from my hand you shall require him. If I
do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear
the blame forever. For if we had not lingered, surely by now we would
have returned this second time.’ And their father Israel said to them,
‘If it must be so, then do this: Take some of the best fruits of the
land in your vessels and carry down a present for the man; a little
balm and a little honey, spices and myrrh, pistachio nuts and almonds.
Take double money in your hand,
and take back in your hand the money
that was returned in the mouth of your sacks; perhaps it was an
oversight. Take your brother also, and arise, go back to the man. And
may God Almighty give you mercy before
the man, that he may release
your other brother and Benjamin. If I am bereaved, I am bereaved!’
Ultimately, Judah became the spokesman for all the brothers, rather
than Reuben, and he offered himself to Jacob as the guarantee for
Benjamin’s welfare and safety. Jacob was forced to capitulate. It was
either that or they would starve. His prayer for Judah was simple … God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may release your other brother and Benjamin.
This was exactly where Jacob needed to be, by the way. He needed to
turn loose of the whole problem and put the matter in the hands of his
God. Perfect. Can you do that with your impossible situations, dear
believer? It’s the only right place to be.
So the men took that
present and Benjamin, and they took double money in their hand, and
arose and went down to Egypt; and they stood before Joseph. When
saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, ‘Take
these men to my home, and slaughter an animal and make ready; for these
men will dine with me at noon.’ Then the man did as Joseph ordered, and
the man brought the men into Joseph's house. Now the men were afraid
because they were brought into Joseph's house; and they said, ‘It is
because of the money, which was returned in our sacks the first time,
that we are brought in, so that he may make a case against us and fall
upon us, to take us as slaves with our donkeys.’
When Joseph saw Benjamin … his baby brother, now grown ...
immediately, he opened his home to his brothers and invited them to
come to dinner. However, they attributed a very different motive to his
invitation. They said it was because he planned to make slaves of them
all, because they had stolen their money back from him. Isn’t it
amazing, how quickly one’s heart can attribute wrong motives to other
people? As if we had a clue as to what someone's true motives might be.
Beloved, only God can read hearts. We need to stay out of that
business. He alone knows what someone is thinking and what their
motives are. That's his realm, not ours. As you have it in Hebrews 4:13,
And there is no creature
hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of
Him to whom we must give account.
One time, a wonderful Pastor from my youth said … If we could see the
fears, burdens, failures, disappointments, griefs and sorrows that any
one of our brothers or sisters are carrying ... we would never judge or
criticize anyone again! His admonition stuck.
When they drew near to
the steward of Joseph's house, they talked with him at the door of the
house, and said, ‘O sir, we indeed came down the first time to buy
food; but it happened, when we came to the encampment, that we opened
our sacks, and there, each man's money was in the mouth of his sack,
our money in full weight; so we have brought it back in our hand. And
we have brought down other money in our hands to buy food. We do not
know who put our money in our sacks.’ But he said, 'Peace be with you,
do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has given you
treasure in your sacks; I had your money.’ Then he brought
to them. So the man brought the men into Joseph's house and gave them
water, and they washed their feet; and he gave their donkeys feed. Then
they made the present ready for Joseph's coming at noon, for they heard
that they would eat bread there.
When Joseph’s brothers arrived at his house, thinking they knew
what was about to happen, they stopped at the door and were afraid to
go in. They thought the worst but, instead, it was the best.
Immediately, they spoke to Joseph’s steward and related to him how,
when they had left Egypt, mysteriously, they had found their money in
the sacks of grain! But, to their amazement, the steward brushed their
story aside and answered that the money they had found was a gift from the God of your father.
Surely, that statement must have stunned them. Furthermore, the
steward said that he still had their money that they had paid to him!
Technically, this was probably true. He did have the money they had
handed him. But, he had replaced it with other money. Then, the steward
brought Simeon out to them and they were reunited before Joseph
And when Joseph came
home, they brought him the present which was in their hand into
house, and bowed down before him to the earth. Then he asked them about
their well-being, and said, ‘Is your
father well, the old man of whom
you spoke? Is he still alive?’ And they answered, ‘Your servant
father is in good health; he is still alive.’ And they bowed their
heads down and prostrated themselves. Then he lifted his eyes and saw
his brother Benjamin, his mother's son, and said, ‘Is this your younger
brother of whom you spoke to me?’ And he said, ‘God be gracious to you,
my son.’ Now his heart yearned
for his brother; so Joseph made haste
and sought somewhere to weep. And he went into his chamber and wept
there. Then he washed his face and came out; and he
himself, and said, ‘Serve the bread.’ So they set him a place by
himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by
themselves; because the Egyptians could not eat food with the Hebrews,
for that is an abomination to the Egyptians. And they sat before him,
the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to
his youth; and the men looked in astonishment at one another.
took servings to them from before him, but Benjamin's serving was five
times as much as any of theirs. So they drank and were merry
When Joseph first laid eyes on Benjamin, no doubt a flood of
memories came to his mind. Benjamin was his only full blooded brother.
All the others were his half brothers. And he, being much older than
Benjamin, must have recalled Benjamin as a baby … how he had played
with him as a toddler … how he had looked after him and enjoyed him.
Now, here Benjamin stood before him … a full grown young man. It was
just too much. And, once again, Joseph was forced to excuse himself so
he could go out and weep. When he returned, he resumed his seat and,
according to Egyptian custom, ate his meal apart from his sheepherder
brothers. Joseph was not yet ready to reveal himself to them and as he
continued to play the part of an Egyptian. However, he had given his
brothers another clue to his identity. To their amazement, they found
themselves seated around the table in the exact order of their births! And, Benjamine's servings were 5 times as large as the others.
And he commanded the
steward of his house, saying, ‘Fill
the men's sacks with food, as much
as they can carry, and put each man's money in the mouth of his sack.
Also put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the
youngest, and his grain money.’ So he did according to the word
Joseph had spoken. As soon as the morning dawned, the men were sent
away, they and their donkeys. When they had gone out of the city, and
were not yet far off, Joseph said to
his steward, ‘Get up, follow the
men; and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid evil
for good? Is not this the one from which my lord drinks, and
he indeed practices divination? You have done evil in so doing.' So he
overtook them, and he spoke to them these same words. And they said to
him, ‘Why does my lord say these words? Far be it from us that your
servants should do such a thing. Look, we brought back to you from the
land of Canaan the money which we found in the mouth of our sacks. How
then could we steal silver or gold from your lord's house? With
whomever of your servants it is found, let him die, and we also will be
my lord's slaves.’ And he said, ‘Now also let it be according to your
words; he with whom it is found shall be my slave, and you shall be
blameless.’ Then each man speedily let down his sack to the
each opened his sack. So he searched. He began with the oldest and left
off with the youngest; and the cup
was found in Benjamin's sack. Then
they tore their clothes, and each man loaded his donkey and returned to
This was quite a set up. Benjamin was the target. Joseph's steward
was instructed to put Joseph's cup in Benjamin's grain sack. The
purpose was to see if the half brothers of Benjamin (Leah’s boys) would
throw Benjamin (Rachel’s boy) to the dogs like they had so nonchalantly
done with Joseph so many years before. When the caravan was intercepted
by Joseph's guards, the brothers could not conceive that any of them would have stolen the cup of the ruler of all the land of Egypt,
so they confidently pronounced the death penalty on anyone among them
that might be found to have it. Furthermore, they said if any one of
them were found to have stolen it … they would all become Joseph’s
slaves. Then, the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. What a horrifying
moment that must have been. Our text says … They tore their clothes ... and returned to the city.
So Judah and his brothers
came to Joseph's house, and he was still there; and they fell before
him on the ground. And Joseph said to them, ‘What deed is this you have
done? Did you not know that such a man as I can certainly practice
divination?’ Then Judah said, ‘What shall we say to my lord? What shall
we speak? Or how shall we clear ourselves? God has found out the
iniquity of your servants; here we are, my lord's slaves, both we and
he also with whom the cup was found.’ But he said, ‘Far be it from me
that I should do so; the man in whose hand the cup was found, he shall
be my slave. And as for you, go up in peace to your father.’
When Joseph’s brothers arrived back in the city, they fell down before
him. God’s Word certainly had come to pass in spades. In Joseph’s
dream, God had said these men would fall before him … and so they did
... not just once ... but several times. At this point, Judah, the one
who had concocted the original plot against Joseph, became the
spokesman. He said … God has found out the iniquity of your servants.
Judah was acknowledging that all this had come upon them because of
what they had done to their little brother so long ago. He then offered
that they all become Joseph's slaves. However, Joseph refused, keeping
Benjamin on the hot-seat. He said … only the thief shall be my slave.
That was ghastly news to Judah and his brothers. They had truly
changed. They, themselves, would have rather become Joseph’s slaves
than to leave their little brother, Benjamin, in Egypt. This was what Joseph was trying to find out.
Then Judah came near to
him and said: ‘O my lord, please let your servant speak a word in my
lord's hearing, and do not let your anger burn against your servant;
for you are even like Pharaoh. My lord asked his servants, saying,
'Have you a father or a brother?' And we said to my lord, 'We have a
father, an old man, and a child of his old age, who is young; his
brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother's children, and his
father loves him.' Then you said to your servants, 'Bring him down to
me, that I may set my eyes on him.' And we said to my lord, 'The lad
cannot leave his father, for if he should leave his father, his father
would die.' But you said to your servants, 'Unless your youngest
brother comes down with you, you shall see my face no more.' So it was,
when we went up to your servant my father, that we told him the words
of my lord. And our father said, 'Go back and buy us a little food.'
But we said, 'We cannot go down; if our youngest brother is with us,
then we will go down; for we may not see the man's face unless our
youngest brother is with us.' Then your servant my father said to us,
'You know that my wife bore me two sons; and the one went out from me,
and I said, ‘Surely he is torn to pieces’; and I have not seen him
since. But if you take this one also from me, and calamity befalls him,
you shall bring down my gray hair with sorrow to the grave.' Now
therefore, when I come to your servant my father, and the lad is not
with us, since his life is bound up in the lad's life, it will happen,
when he sees that the lad is not with us, thathe will die. So your
servants will bring down the gray hair of your servant our father with
sorrow to the grave. For your servant became surety for the lad to my
father, saying, 'If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear
the blame before my father forever. Now therefore, please let your
servant remain instead of the lad as a slave to my lord, and let the
lad go up with his brothers. For how shall I go up to my father if the
lad is not with me, lest perhaps I see the evil that would come upon my
Wow, what an intercession Judah, the son of Leah, made on behalf of
Benjamin, the son of Rachel. The old rivalry was gone. It is probably
not possible to fully convey the passion and sincerity with which Judah
presented his case. Also, Judah pled for Joseph to have compassion on
their father, Jacob. Judah hadn’t cared about the feelings of his
father when he and his brothers had disposed of Joseph. But, now he
does. Throughout his passionate plea, no doubt Judah made his case with
tears. I can’t see how it could have been otherwise. The result was
that Judah demonstrated that he was clearly not the old Judah that
Joseph had known so many years before. People do change, brother.
Praise God for his wonderful sanctifying work in the lives of his
people, aye? Also, isn’t it a wonderful thing to have an intercessor on
one’s behalf? Throughout all this, Benjamin was standing there, no
doubt shaking in his boots! I’m so glad you and I have someone who intercedes for us as well … before our holy and righteous Father, aren’t you? As we have it in Hebrews 7:24-25,
But He, (Jesus)
because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore
He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through
Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
And again, in Romans
Likewise the Spirit also
helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as
we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with
groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows
what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the
saints according to the will of God.
Isn’t that a wonderful truth? So, actually, we have two intercessors on
our behalf before the Father. I really am glad for that because I
really need them. How about you?
Then Joseph could not
restrain himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out,
‘Make everyone go out from me!’ So no one stood with him while
made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, and the
Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard it. Then Joseph said to his
brothers, ‘I am Joseph; does my father
still live?’ But his brothers
could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence. And
Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Please
come near to me.’ So they came
near. Then he said: ‘I am Joseph your
brother, whom you sold into
Egypt. But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves
because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.
For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are
still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting.
And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the
earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not
you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh,
and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of
Egypt. Hurry and go up to my father,
and say to him, 'Thus says your
son Joseph: God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not
tarry. You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near to
me, you and your children, your children's children, your flocks and
your herds, and all that you have. There I will provide for you,
you and your household, and all that you have, come to poverty; for
there are still five years of famine. And behold, your eyes and the
eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my mouth that speaks to you.
So you shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that
you have seen; and you shall hurry and bring my father down here. Then
he fell on his brother Benjamin's neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on
his neck. Moreover he kissed all his brothers and wept over them,
and after that his brothers talked with him.’
This is an incredibly moving scene. The broken words ... the sobs
... the volume ... the pathos … it caused Joseph’s words to be heard by
all that were in his house. His brothers were astonished. They couldn’t
believe their ears. They didn’t know what to say. Then, Joseph said, Please come near to me.
Some believe that, at that time, Joseph revealed his circumcision to
his brothers … the sure sign of a male member of the chosen people of
God and a participant in the Abrahamic Covenant. I know this may sound
off the wall in our day, but I believe, under those circumstances and
in that culture, it may well be true. If so, it was the final proof of
Joseph’s identity. Personally, I believe that is what took place.
Joseph told his brothers … do not … be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.
He had it right. The whole thing was orchestrated by the sovereign and
good hand of God who was working out his multifaceted and perfect plan
for all concerned. As you have it in Psalm 105:17,
He sent a man before
them; Joseph; who was sold as a slave.
Truly, as you have it in Isaiah
For My thoughts are not
your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' says the LORD. 'For as the
heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your
ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down,
and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth,
and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and
bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please,
and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.'
Let God be God, dear saint. When we do, life is a whole lot easier.
And, if we can’t, God is going to be God anyway. Romans 8:28, says,
And we know that all
things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are
the called according to His purpose.
Joseph knew that what had happened to him was from God and was in
accordance with God’s sovereign purposes. Therefore, he reasoned, how
could he blame his brothers? Wow! That way of thinking is both deep and
wonderful and completely out of the norm, is it not? Joseph told his
brothers to hurry home and tell Jacob that his son, Joseph, was alive
and that he wanted him to come to Egypt so that he could care for him.
Then, Joseph fell on Benjamin’s neck, and the two blood- brothers wept.
Again, they doubtless had distant memories of each other from when they
were young. Afterwards, Joseph kissed all his brothers and wept over them, and it says … his brothers talked with him.
Joseph gave them his unreserved affection. They didn’t respond in kind.
They were too shocked. And, I’m sure they were waiting for the other
shoe to drop! It surely would have been interesting to listen to those
conversations as each brother talked with him, would it not?
Now the report of it was
heard in Pharaoh's house, saying, ‘Joseph's brothers have come.’ So it
pleased Pharaoh and his servants well. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Say
to your brothers, 'Do this: Load your
animals and depart; go to the
land of Canaan. Bring your father and your households and come to me; I
will give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you will eat the fat
of the land.’ Now you are commanded; do this: Take carts out of
land of Egypt for your little ones and your wives; bring your father
and come. Also do not be concerned about your goods, for the best of
all the land of Egypt is yours.'
Joseph was a greatly loved and highly respected man before Pharaoh
and all of the Egyptians. He was honest, fair, compassionate and a
great administrator. In the Egyptian’s eyes, he had saved their bacon.
He could do no wrong. Therefore, they rejoiced with Joseph when his
family showed up and they did everything in their power to help and
make room for them and make them welcome.
Then the sons of Israel
did so; and Joseph gave them carts, according to the command of
Pharaoh, and he gave them provisions for the journey. He gave to
them, to each man, changes of garments; but to Benjamin he gave three
hundred pieces of silver and five changes of garments. And he
his father these things: ten donkeys loaded with the good things of
Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain, bread, and food for
his father for the journey. So he sent his brothers away, and they
departed; and he said to them, ‘See that you do not become troubled
along the way.’ Then they went up out of Egypt, and came to the land of
Canaan to Jacob their father. And they told him, saying, ‘Joseph is
still alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt.’ And
Jacob's heart stood still, because he did not believe them. But
they told him all the words which Joseph had said to them, and when he
saw the carts which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob
their father revived. Then Israel said, ‘It is enough. Joseph my son is
still alive. I will go and see him before I die.’
What a shock it must have been, when Jacob saw his sons coming
home! Their caravan was absolutely laden with food … and they were
driving carts … and his sons were crying … Joseph is still alive and he is governor over all the land of Egypt! The text here says that Jacob’s heart stood still. Don’t you wonder what those boys told their dad when he said … How can this be? We are not told … but you can bet that question was asked. Jacob said … It is enough. Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die. God had said to Abraham,
Know certainly that your
descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will
serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the
nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with
great possessions. Genesis 15:13-14
Once again, God’s word was being fulfilled and his plans were right
on track. In Egypt, God would make a great nation from these brothers.
They would be his people and he would be their God. He was placing them
right where they needed to be in order to fulfill his purposes and
glorify his name. This is how Israel came into the land of Egypt. Four
hundred years later, the Lord would deliver them from there with a
mighty hand, and through it all, bring great glory to his name for all
By the way, God’s sovereign plans are still on track today, brother and
sister. At the moment, he is calling out another people for his name’s
sake. They are his sons and daughters from among the Gentiles. They
make up the vast majority of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ today.
Soon, he will come for them so that where he is, they may be also (John 14:1 and following).