The Plan of God in the Book of Genesis—Part 31

“I am Joseph”


VERSES 1-15  “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.
“And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard.
“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.
“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.
“Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.
“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.
“And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
“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.
“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.
“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:
“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.
“And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you.
“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.
“And he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck.
“Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him.”

Joseph now knew that his brethren really had experienced a change of heart and that they were truly sorry for the crime they had committed against him many years before. With this knowledge, and realizing that he was about to be reunited with his family, he ‘could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me.’ Now alone with his brethren, he made himself known to them. We read that he ‘wept aloud,’ or as the Margin states, he ‘gave forth his voice in weeping.’ These, however, were not tears of sorrow, but of joy. Great joy, when it comes as a climax to a long period of trial, often finds expression in weeping.

‘I am Joseph,’ he announced to his brethren, and at once asked, ‘Doth my father yet live?’ Joseph’s brethren were terrified (Marginal Translation) when they realized that they were in the presence of their brother whom they had sold to be a slave in Egypt—so disturbed that they could not, for the moment, reply to his inquiry concerning Jacob.

Sensing the situation, and wishing to assure them that he was harboring no ill will, Joseph said to his brethren, ‘Come near to me, I pray you.’ They accepted this invitation, and again Joseph told them who he was, that he was their brother ‘whom ye sold into Egypt.’ Probably Joseph referred to their crime, not to humiliate them, but to let them know that despite it he still loved them and had only kindness in his heart toward them.

This becomes apparent as we study the narrative, for Joseph assures his brethren that it was in the Lord’s providence that he had come to Egypt, God having sent him before them ‘to preserve life.’ Here the reference is not to Egyptian life, but—as he explained, ‘to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.’ The ‘posterity’ to be saved was the promised “seed” (Acts 3:25) of Abraham, that seed through which all the families of the earth were to be blessed. Through this ‘seed’ is to come a great deliverance of all mankind from the bondage of sin and death.

An interesting parallel may be drawn between the experiences of Joseph and his brethren, and Jesus and his brethren of natural Israel. Joseph was sent into the field by his father to seek the welfare of his brethren. They seized him and planned to put him to death, but compromised and sold him as a slave. Later, when they probably believed that he was dead, he revealed himself to them. By now he had become a ruler and savior of life.

Likewise, Jesus was sent into the field—the world—by his Heavenly Father, to seek the welfare of his brethren. Like Joseph, however, he came to his own, but “his own received him not.” (John 1:11) Instead, they put him to death, not by their own hands, but by turning him over to the Roman authorities. Later, Jesus will reveal himself to his brethren of natural Israel as their Ruler and Savior. And, like Joseph, he will be glad to extend mercy to them.

Having proved his friendliness toward his brethren, Joseph at once instructed them to return to Canaan and bring his father and household to Egypt to remain there for the duration of the drought. He wanted his family near to him so the reunion would be complete. It seems that he had been making plans for this from the time he realized that he had found his family, for he announced at once that they were to ‘dwell in the land of Goshen.’ A decision of this importance was unlikely to have been made on the spur of the moment.

‘And after that his brethren talked with him.’ Apparently it took them some time to recover their poise, and it was during this period that Joseph told them of his plans to bring the entire household to Egypt and have them settle in the land of Goshen. Then he embraced and kissed them all. His gracious plans for them and their father, together with this show of affectionate love, doubtless convinced the men that they had nothing to fear, and then they were ready to talk with their long-lost brother.

The spirit of forgiveness and mercy manifested by Joseph is a good example for Christians. Unfortunately, we do not always find it so easy to forgive those who have wronged us, but we should seek to attain to this goal of character development. Like Joseph, we are in the Lord’s hands, and he does not permit experiences except as they are for our good. (Rom. 8:28) So, if the injuries inflicted upon us by others are serving a good purpose in preparing us for joint-heirship with Christ in the kingdom, it should not be difficult to deal mercifully with those through whom the trials reach us. In this respect, our experiences are akin to those of both Joseph and Jesus, who through long periods of trial finally attained to positions of rulership. And so it will be with us if we are faithful, for “if we suffer [with him], we shall also reign with him.”—II Tim. 2:12

VERSES 16-24  “And the fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh’s house, saying, Joseph’s brethren are come: and it pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants.
“And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren, This do ye; lade your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan;
“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 of the fat of the land.
“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.
“Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“So he sent his brethren away, and they departed: and he said unto them, See that ye fall not out by the way.”

The news soon spread that Joseph’s brethren had come to Egypt and the spirit of rejoicing seemed to be general. Pharaoh outdid even Joseph in offering assistance to the family. This was a tribute to Joseph, for it reveals the great confidence the supreme ruler of the land had in this young Hebrew.

Pharaoh ordered ‘wagons’ to be dispatched to Canaan to bring Jacob and his belongings back to Egypt. This is the first time wagons are mentioned in the Bible. They were probably invented in Egypt, and are believed to have had but two wheels. They were seemingly not known in Canaan at the time. The invention of the wagon wheel was fundamental in the world of mechanics and travel.

VERSES 25-28  “And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father,
“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.
“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:
“And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.”

Certainly Joseph’s brethren had a joyous report for their father when they got back to Canaan. At first, when they told him that Joseph was alive, his ‘heart fainted, for he believed them not.’ This was not surprising. He had probably been greatly concerned over Benjamin all the time they were gone, and for them to return with such unexpected news was more than he had anticipated.

But they continued to unfold the details of the wonderful news, and these, together with the gifts Joseph had sent and the wagons Pharaoh had dispatched to bring the household back to Egypt, finally convinced Jacob, and he said, ‘It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.’

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Dawn Bible Students Association
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