Joseph Tells His Brothers
1 Since Joseph could no longer control his feelings in front of his servants, he sent them out of the room. When he was alone with his brothers, he told them, “I am Joseph.” 2Then he cried so loudly that the Egyptians heard him and told about it in the king's palace.
3Joseph asked his brothers if his father was still alive, but they were too frightened to answer. 4Joseph told them to come closer to him, and when they did, he said:
Yes, I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt. 5Don't worry or blame yourselves for what you did. God is the one who sent me ahead of you to save lives.
6There has already been a famine for two years, and for five more years no one will plow fields or harvest grain. 7But God sent me on ahead of you to keep your families alive and to save you in this wonderful way. 8After all, you weren't really the ones who sent me here—it was God. He made me the highest official in the king's court and placed me over all Egypt.
9 Now hurry back and tell my father that his son Joseph says, “God has made me ruler of Egypt. Come here as quickly as you can. 10You will live near me in the region of Goshen with your children and grandchildren, as well as with your sheep, goats, cattle, and everything else you own. 11I will take care of you there during the next five years of famine. But if you don't come, you and your family and your animals will starve to death.”
12All of you, including my brother Benjamin, can tell by what I have said that I really am Joseph. 13Tell my father about my great power here in Egypt and about everything you have seen. Hurry and bring him here.
14Joseph and Benjamin hugged each other and started crying. 15Joseph was still crying as he kissed each of his other brothers. After this, they started talking with Joseph.
16When it was told in the palace that Joseph's brothers had come, the king and his officials were happy. 17So the king said to Joseph:
Tell your brothers to load their donkeys and return to Canaan. 18Tell them to bring their father and their families here. I will give them the best land in Egypt, and they can eat and enjoy everything that grows there. 19Also tell your brothers to take some wagons from Egypt for their wives and children to ride in. And be sure they bring their father. 20They can leave their possessions behind, because they will be given the best of everything in Egypt.
21Jacob's sons agreed to do what the king had said. And Joseph gave them wagons and food for their trip home, just as the king had ordered. 22Joseph gave some new clothes to each of his brothers, but to Benjamin he gave five new outfits and 300 pieces of silver. 23To his father he sent ten donkeys loaded with the best things in Egypt, and ten other donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other food for the return trip. 24Then he sent his brothers off and told them, “Don't argue on the way home!”
25Joseph's brothers left Egypt, and when they arrived in Canaan, 26they told their father that Joseph was still alive and was the ruler of Egypt. But their father was so surprised that he could not believe them. 27Then they told him everything Joseph had said. When he saw the wagons Joseph had sent, he felt much better 28and said, “Now I can believe you! My son Joseph must really be alive, and I will get to see him before I die.”
Finally, the deception is over! We feel the relief and Joseph’s emotion.
Joseph tells his brothers that it wasn’t really them who “sent” him to Egypt; it was God (v 8). Pause and think for a moment about this amazing statement. Joseph can see the “big picture.” He is not absorbed in his own situation, or filled with resentment about the past.
In all of the tangled story that has led up to this chapter we can see how God has been at work, preserving a remnant on earth (v 7) and keeping the promise he had made to Abraham.
When we experience extreme suffering, we are often absorbed with ourselves and want to blame the people who were directly or indirectly involved. We often see only the present moment. But God is all powerful and it is he that often has plans greater than anything we can see. Meanwhile, he does not delight in seeing us suffer. It is written in the book of Psalms: “You have kept record of my days of wandering. You have stored my tears in your bottle and counted each of them” (Psalm 56:8).
Howard Jolly, Cree pastor and singer, wrote a song titled “Jesus’ tears” recorded by The Rising Above Band. (“Love is the Best” CD 2007 available from www.risingabove.ca) In this song, Howard eloquently portrays the message that when we hurt, God hurts.
Did Joseph, languishing in a cruel Egyptian prison, envision this moment when he would be governor of Egypt and would weep with joy as he embraced his brothers? Probably not. But God is in control, and has bigger plans than ours. He can see the end from the beginning.
“But it is just as the Scriptures say, ‘What God has planned for people who love him is more than eyes have seen or ears have heard. It has never even entered our minds!’” (1 Cor 2:9).
Precious Lord, most loving and faithful God, we trust you for our past and our present and our future. Thank you for walking with us in our pain. And thank you for the hope we have in you. In Jesus’ name. Amen