This article is part of a series of articles that resulted from my time preaching through the book of Genesis. The commentary on the passage is my own, resulting from hours of research and exegetical study. It is my intent to draw a biblical theology chapter by chapter through the book of Genesis that places the events of the narratives into the broad picture of the entire Bible, demonstrating the progressiveness of theology and the sufficiency of every Word of Scripture. It is my prayer that these articles are helpful to those seeking a better understanding of the book of Genesis and of the Bible as a whole. The sermon series and other resources can be found at www.fbcroxana.com.
1 Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried, “Have everyone go out from me.” So there was no man with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2 He wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard of it. 3 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence.
After all that time, they learned that they had not sold Joseph into hard slavery that resulted in his death. It is impossible to understand the astonishment that they felt. It must have felt as though Joseph had risen from the dead and become the ruler of Egypt. It is no wonder they couldn’t answer him! They were afraid of him, for it was in his power to do anything to them.
4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me.” And they came closer. And he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. 7 God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. 8 Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.
Over the years, Joseph had come to realize that God had a purpose in his enslavement. It had not been pleasant, and had been downright shameful to say the least. But all of that fades in the light of the bigger picture. Joseph knew that God was using him to preserve the lives of the sons of Israel. Ironically, they are delivered from the Promised Land into Egypt in order to partake of the best of the land. Joseph continued:
9 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 delay. 10 You shall live in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children and your flocks and your herds and all that you have. 11 There I will also provide for you, for there are still five years of famine to come, and you and your household and all that you have would be impoverished.”’
What a great and unexpected deliverance for the household of Israel. They had come to Egypt because they were starving in the land of Canaan. Now they see the providential working of God to establish Joseph as the second-in-command of Egypt so that their household would be welcomed to the land. It had to be unbelievable! To that effect, Joseph said,
12 Behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth which is speaking to you. 13 Now you must tell my father of all my splendor in Egypt, and all that you have seen; and you must hurry and bring my father down here.” 14 Then he fell on his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. 15 He kissed all his brothers and wept on them, and afterward his brothers talked with him.
How many questions must have been asked and stories have been told! What a sweet reunion between brothers who had been separated for two decades. And now they had Joseph’s invite to bring their father to Egypt. But how would the Egyptians receive the news that a large household of the Hebrews (whom we have already observed prejudice toward) would be moving to their land?
16 Now when the news was heard in Pharaoh’s house that Joseph’s brothers had come, it pleased Pharaoh and his servants. 17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Say to your brothers, ‘Do this: load your beasts and go to the land of Canaan, 18 and take your father and your households and come to me, and I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you will eat the fat of the land.’ 19 Now you are ordered, ‘Do this: take wagons from the land of Egypt for your little ones and for your wives, and bring your father and come. 20 Do not concern yourselves with your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.’”
No amount of prejudice could overcome Pharaoh’s gratefulness to Joseph. Without hesitation, Pharaoh sent wagons and goods to Canaan so that the men could bring the entire household of Jacob down. This was a generous move by Pharaoh, which greatly contrasts the adversity that comes upon the sons of Israel at the Exodus.
21 Then the sons of Israel did so; and Joseph gave them wagons according to the command of Pharaoh, and gave them provisions for the journey. 22 To each of them he gave changes of garments, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five changes of garments. 23 To his father he sent as follows: ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and sustenance for his father on the journey.
This was a tremendous present that would serve to demonstrate the veracity of the brothers’ story. It would show Jacob that Joseph’s wealth had far exceeded any possible calculations. It showed that Joseph had no hard feelings toward any of his brothers. Moreover, it foreshadowed the provision that Joseph would give to his family while they lived together in Egypt.
24 So he sent his brothers away, and as they departed, he said to them, “Do not quarrel on the journey.” 25 Then they went up from Egypt, and came to the land of Canaan to their father Jacob. 26 They told him, saying, “Joseph is still alive, and indeed he is ruler over all the land of Egypt.” But he was stunned, for he did not believe them. 27 When they told him all the words of Joseph that he had spoken to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. 28 Then Israel said, “It is enough; my son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”
For twenty years, Jacob had probably been in a deep and dark depression. No one can understand the pain of losing a child until it happens. He probably fought hard to not believe that Joseph was alive, lest he be disappointed and have to mourn him again. But the gifts and the story were too convincing, and he rejoiced that Joseph was alive.