by Don R. Richards
Back to Index 1999
Back to February 1999
Genesis Chapters 44-45
When Joseph became an official in Egypt over the food distribution, his family came to Egypt to him for food, not realizing he was the brother whom they had faked his death by pouring blood on his coat of many colors and had sold him into slavery years ago. He recognized them and put his brothers through a series of tests without revealing himself.
At one point he held one brother in Egypt and made the others return with the youngest brother, Benjamin, over the objections of their father, Jacob, who was afraid of losing another son.
Joseph’s brothers have returned to Egypt with Benjamin and have enjoyed a feast set for them by Joseph, who has yet to reveal his true identity to them. The brothers were amazed that Joseph had arranged their seating at the feast, placing the brothers in order from oldest to youngest, but still did not suspect this strange Egyptian leader as their long lost brother. Beginning with the 44th chapter of Genesis, we learn of one more test Joseph sets for his brothers.
Joseph ordered his servants to put food and money into his brothers bags for their trip home to their father. However, he had his servants hide a silver cup in the bag of his youngest brother Benjamin.
Joseph’s brothers then started on their return trip home. Joseph’s servants followed them out of town, overtook them and demanded to search their bags for suspected theft. The "stolen" silver cup was found in Benjamin’s bag, and all the brothers were returned to Egypt to confront Joseph. Joseph demanded that Benjamin be made a servant of his for the "theft". Joseph’s brother Judah attempted to intercede. He offered himself in Benjamin’s place. Judah relayed the story of his father and the father’s fear of losing a second son of his current wife and that he had already lost the first son (Joseph). Judah stated that if the family did not return home with Benjamin it would be the death of their elderly father, Jacob.
Joseph could no longer contain himself. Beginning with the 45th chapter of Genesis, we learn that Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers. He first started to cry in front of his brothers. Then he made all the other servants and Egyptian s leave the room He then told his brothers his true identity as the brother for whom they had faked the death and then they had sold him into slavery in Egypt. The brothers at first did not know whether to believe him or not, but Joseph told them "I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt." Gen. 45:4.
Joseph told his brothers not to grieve themselves for selling him into slavery, because God had now placed Joseph into a position to save his family. Joseph told them that the present drought was only two years old and would last for seven more years (as he had interpreted the dream of the Pharaoh years before which made him popular with the Pharaoh and got him his prestigious job. Joseph told them that God had planned for Joseph to preserve for his family "a prosperity in the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance." Gen. 45:7
Joseph instructed his brothers to return home and tell the father Jacob of Joseph’s being alive and of Joseph’s prosperity and fame in Egypt. He told his brothers they were to tell their father that Joseph was yet alive and to bring Jacob to Egypt where Joseph would take care of him. Joseph said he would set aside the "land of Goshen" where his family would dwell with their flocks and families and could grow and prosper in this time of great drought on the earth. Joseph’s decision to set aside the land of Goshen would play an important role years later when another Pharaoh discriminated against the Jewish nation and refused Moses’ request to free the Israelites from Egyptian bondage.
Joseph wept with and kissed his brothers. Joseph then sent word to the Pharaoh that his family was in Egypt and would come to live with Joseph, who had become one of the Pharaoh’s favorite rulers because of the knowledge and plan of Joseph to economize the food supplies to save Egypt from the drought.
The Pharaoh was proud to help bring Joseph’s family to Egypt to live and provided great assistance to insure Joseph’s family could easily relocate their father from the land of Canaan to Egypt. Joseph gave his brothers plenty of food and wagons for their return home to get their father. Joseph sent with Benjamin an extra share of food and money. He sent special gifts of stock to his father Jacob.
The brothers quickly returned home and told their father of the discovery that Joseph was alive and of his fame in Egypt. At first, Jacob did not believe them and he fainted from the great news that his once-favored son was still alive. The brothers were able to later convince Jacob when he saw all the food, wagons and gifts that Joseph had sent.
Jacob, since renamed by the Lord as "Israel" stated: "It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die." Gen. 45:28.
Jacob’s decision to move to Egypt was the start of the nation of Israel in the land of Goshen in Egypt.
Next: Israel Becomes `Great Nation’ As Jacob Moves to Egypt
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