Genesis Segment 31 (45:1-28)

Genesis 45:1 Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren.

To recap, Joseph had put a silver cup in Benjamin’s grain sack so that he could accuse the young man of theft. The cup had been found and Joseph told the brethren they were free but Benjamin must remain as his slave. Judah had made an impassioned plea that Joseph would allow him to remain and become Joseph’s slave in the place of Benjamin as a vicarious atonement for the guilt of his youngest brother. This is a shadow of Christ, Who would die in the place of sinners.

This proved to Joseph that the brethren had indeed repented of the violence they did to Joseph and that Judah was willing to give up his life in order to set his youngest brother free. This went right to Joseph’s heart and he could not refrain himself from being overwhelmed with emotion. He sharply commanded that all his servants should leave his presence immediately. His brothers, who did not understand Egyptian, remained. Now Joseph, with no Egyptian around, told the brethren who he was.

Genesis 45:2 And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard.

Joseph’s weeping was heard outside of the room they were in. Whether or not the sound carried all the way to Pharaoh’s ears is not stated. It is just stated that the Egyptians and Pharaoh heard. They probably heard as the news swept through the area. Those near the room Joseph was in heard him weeping loudly; however, the weeping was not loud enough to be heard all over town. The servants spread the news that Joseph had wept. That is how all the Egyptians and the Pharaoh heard.

Genesis 45:3 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence.

Troubled? I guess! Put yourself in their place. They thought Joseph was an Egyptian. He looked the part. Surely he wore the makeup, the wig, the coiffure beard, and the trappings of the court. Remember the way the Egyptians look in the ancient pictures of them. That is how Joseph appeared. They assumed he was an Egyptian. It was because of his dress, makeup, manners, and language that they did not recognize him.

Now the prime minister of all Egypt, who was the second most powerful man in the world, was their long lost brother. But they had wronged their brother Joseph. They were guilty of kidnapping him and selling him into slavery. To say they were troubled was an understatement. The word rendered troubled here has several meanings. The context always shows what connotation should be used. It can mean disturbed, or alarmed, or even terrified. The context would bear out the word terrified. In fact, the word is rendered stunned, frightened, afraid, terrified, dismayed, and affrighted in several translations. They were terrified. No wonder they were speechless.

Since there were no Egyptians present, and no interpreter was present, Joseph spoke Hebrew directly to them. Imagine their utter amazement when Joseph spoke to them in their own language. Imagine their terror as they realized that this was Joseph whom they had sold into slavery, now a most powerful man. He had the power to do with them whatever he wished. That they were troubled at his presence is an understatement. The Hebrew word indicates that they were terrified. The Septuagint uses a word that is less intense than the Hebrew. The LXX uses the word troubled. That is probably why the KJV translators used the word.

They were terrified because they fully remembered what they had done to him some twenty years before. He had the power to take revenge upon them because of their deeds. He could have them beaten, tortured, imprisoned or killed if he so desired. They were terrified that he might take adverse actions against them and they knew he would be justified in doing so.

Genesis 45:4-5 And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. (5) Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.

Joseph immediately discerned the cause of their terror. By bringing them near him, he sought to put them at ease. He then talked to them in a more intimate and tender way. He let them know that they need not fear, be grieved, or be angry about the deed. He forgave them. He made it clear to them that it was God’s plan all along that Joseph should come to Egypt in order to make sure that there was enough food to save lives during the drought.

Genesis 45:6-8 For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. (7) And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. (8) So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

He explained to them how it was God’s plan that these things must happen. When Joseph said God made him a father to Pharaoh that simply meant he was an intimate advisor to Pharaoh. He was at Pharaoh’s right hand, and had his ear. Pharaoh listened to him and heeded his advice as a son would do for his father. And, like a father, Joseph had Pharaoh’s best interest at heart.

Genesis 45:9 Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not:

Joseph was impatient by this time and bid them to hurry and go and get Jacob. Just to mention that Joseph had told them to come get him would revive Jacob. Joseph’s titles would have sounded good to Jacob, but what mattered most was that his son, who he thought dead, was alive.

Genesis 45:10-11 And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children’s children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast: (11) And there will I nourish thee; for yet there are five years of famine; lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty.

Goshen was situated to the northeast of the Nile delta. It stretched from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. Rameses, a rich city was located in the land of Goshen. It was a rich grazing land and a very good place for his family of herders to settle, to live, and to prosper, and it was separated from the main land of Egypt. That way the herders and the Egyptians, who disdained sheep herders, (Gen 46:34) could remain apart. Joseph apparently controlled the land of Goshen. Perhaps Pharaoh had granted him that land because of his marriage to the daughter of the priest of On, or Heliopolis, which was located in Goshen. Or, perhaps it was one of the gifts that Pharaoh had given Abram when he and Sarah had briefly sojourned there (Gen 12:16). In any case, Joseph must have had control over Goshen to so glibly offer it to his family without going to Pharaoh in advance.

Genesis 45:12-13 And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you. (13) And ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that ye have seen; and ye shall haste and bring down my father hither.

Once again, Joseph assured them of his sincerity. They could see that he was speaking in their language not through an interpreter, but directly. They knew it was Joseph. Physical recognition probably came to them immediately when they realized it was Joseph. They then remembered his face, his voice, and his mannerisms. They knew it was Joseph and they knew he was sincere. They would be able to convincingly tell their father what they had found about Joseph.

Genesis 45:14-15 And he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck. (15) Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him.

Oh, the things they must have discussed. They probably told Joseph how truly sorry they were for their deeds and how guilty they had been. The brothers probably said they would do anything for Joseph because of his great mercy to them. They likely caught up on all the family news. They had much to talk about. Surely Joseph asked many questions of them and they of him. Doubtless they told Joseph of the family, and he told them of his time in Egypt. It would have been a great reunion that most likely lasted for hours, perhaps even days.

It was news as well. It would be difficult to keep such a happening under wraps. Joseph was the most well-known man in Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. Such news would travel very quickly throughout the region and eventually got to Pharaoh.

Genesis 45:16 And the fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh’s house, saying, Joseph’s brethren are come: and it pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants.

Of course. If Pharaoh was well-pleased, so were his servants. But it goes deeper than that. Pharaoh would have had a cabinet he could rely on for good advice; Joseph was one of them, but he was not present at this meeting. There was a good chance that Joseph resided in Heliopolis (On) and Pharaoh in Memphis, several miles away to the southeast. Thus Joseph would not have been present in Pharaoh’s court. Apparently a meeting took place upon receipt and verification of the news and the consensus was this was a good thing for Pharaoh, and for Egypt. Joseph was a very real asset to the nation. Therefore all the court was in agreement that it was good for the country that Joseph’s family had come.

Genesis 45:17-20 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren, This do ye; lade your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan; (18) And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land. (19) Now thou art commanded, this do ye; take you wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come. (20) Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours.

Reducing this passage to its essence, Pharaoh sent for Joseph and commanded him to send his brothers to go back to Canaan and get his father and the entire family and bring them to Egypt where they would be well cared for. They could leave all their possessions in Canaan for Pharaoh gave them all the luxuries Egypt could offer. Thus the relocation of the early Israelites was sanctioned by the Egyptian government.

Even though the Egyptians would not socialize with shepherds, which the Egyptians considered to be a lower class, this edict from Pharaoh gave Israel and his family the status they needed to exist and to prosper in the land of Egypt. They would not be social outcasts even though they were shepherds nor would they be discriminated against by the Egyptians. After all, was not Joseph, the High Chancellor of all Egypt, Israel’s son?

Genesis 45:21-23 And the children of Israel did so: and Joseph gave them wagons, according to the commandment of Pharaoh, and gave them provision for the way. (22) To all of them he gave each man changes of raiment; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver, and five changes of raiment. (23) And to his father he sent after this manner; ten asses laden with the good things of Egypt, and ten she asses laden with corn and bread and meat for his father by the way.

Joseph, through Pharaoh’s leading, gave ample provisions to the children of Israel for their journey. The eastern custom of giving garments to ambassadors and people of status, tells us that the sons of Israel were honored because of their brother, Joseph. The fact that Joseph gave Benjamin silver and five sets of clothing and then gave even more to Jacob, shows how Joseph’s affection increased for his brother and father.

Genesis 45:24 So he sent his brethren away, and they departed: and he said unto them, See that ye fall not out by the way.

Now why would they quarrel? Perhaps about whose fault it was that the did Joseph wrong. Perhaps about Benjamin getting more than they did. Perhaps they were just typical people with petty jealousies and differences, and thus they might quarrel with one another. Joseph wanted no falling out to occur, especially since they were going after Joseph’s long lost father. Joseph wanted an uneventful trip to Canaan and then back to Egypt in the quickest manner possible.

Gen 45:25-26 And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father, (26) And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob’s heart fainted, for he believed them not.

Jacob was stunned at the news and found it extremely difficult to believe. After all, he had accepted his son’s death many years before. In his mind, Jacob had put Joseph to rest just as if he had actually buried his Son. Put yourself in Jacob’s place. You have said your goodbyes to a loved one, seen that person’s casket lid closed over his or her body, the casket lowered into the ground, and earth sprinkled on the casket. You knew that person was dead and you would never again in this life see the person. Then suddenly someone tells you that the person is still alive. Would you believe it? Probably not. It would take some powerful convincing for you to even consider the fact. Of course the Disciples of Christ were in the same condition. They were only convinced when they had seen the risen Christ for themselves. To be fair, though, Jacob had not seen his son’s body, only a bloody coat. It may have been easier to convince him than you or me in the situation described above. The addition that Joseph was the leader of all of Egypt, observably the most powerful nation in the world at that time, was even more absurd. Only some sort of corroboration or proof would have allowed Joseph to believe them. Opportunely, there was proof.

Gen 45:27-28 And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived: (28) And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.

The booty that Joseph had sent to his father was the proof that helped Jacob to believe. The repeated stories with the accompanying goods that Joseph had sent were enough to satisfy Jacob. Thus, Jacob, the heel grasper, the great deceiver, the man who struggled with God, was himself deceived and now he knew it, but his heart was glad, for his “son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:24).

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