Genesis 45

I Can't Take It

God has been at work in Joseph's life through the curious timing of ordinary events. Joseph spent twenty years separated from his family because he was enslaved, imprisoned, and made an imperial. He has been reunited with his brothers through famine and now an official reunion is about to take place. Joseph cannot take it anymore. He has seen his brothers, tested his brothers, and deceived his brothers, but there would be no more masks or games. Joseph is about to break down, and so he dismisses his staff. After they leave, it is only Joseph and his brothers. The brothers must have wondered what else could possibly happen after all they had endured. Joseph bursts into tears that are so loud, the entire house, hears it. Joseph reveals his identity and his brothers are not only stunned, but they are dismayed just to be in his presence. The brothers have been subject to such a strange series of events that they are not certain how to feel, what to think, or what to do. They may have wondered if Joseph was about to exact revenge on them. Joseph begins reconciliation by inviting them closer, reminding them that he is family, and encouraging them not to be distressed or angry. Joseph has grown in his faith, understanding that God is at work in spite of their sin. Joseph says that they sold him and that God sent him. Human agency is recognized while God's sovereignty remains. Everything is subject to God and man is responsible and free. Joseph also sees God's rescue taking place through their jealousy, animosity, and sinful betrayal. God has Joseph in this position because God is preserving life and keeping his covenant. Joseph explains to his brothers that the famine is not even halfway complete, so God has him stationed in Egypt to preserve a remnant and to keep alive many. He tells his brothers the significance of his position with Pharaoh and sees that God is providentially working through everything that is taking place. He instructs his brothers to go to his father and tell him that he is alive and wishes for him to come to Egypt in order to survive the famine. Joseph assures his brothers that he will provide for them and they will be together. He does not want his family to suffer poverty and starvation, and there remains yet five years of famine. Joseph wants Israel to know that he is well and that he has been greatly honored in Egypt. He longs to see his father, so he tells his brothers to hurry. The tears continue during this happy reunion as Joseph embraces Benjamin and they weep together. Joseph kissed all of his brothers and wept over them. The end of verse fifteen says that Joseph's brothers talked with him. Imagine how much catching up there was and how many questions. The brothers must have been eager to hear how Joseph went from slave to royalty and Joseph wanted to know what the family had been doing all these years. 

Word Spreads Quickly

The word about Joseph and his brothers spread quickly. It is not difficult to imagine the servants discussing all the crying and the shocking news about Joseph's family. They may have been acquainted with Joseph's rise to power, but they had no knowledge of his family and his past. Pharaoh receives the news with pleasure and tells Joseph to return, gather everything, and return to live in Egypt where they will enjoy the best of the land. Joseph follows Pharaoh's orders and gives his brothers wagons and provisions. All of his brothers are given clothes, but Benjamin receives three hundred shekels of silver and five changes of clothes. Benjamin is Joseph's full brother, and the others are only half brothers, but the wisdom of this is questionable at best. Favoritism still plagues the family. As they leave, Joseph tells his brothers not to quarrel. This order may have proven difficult given the fact that Benjamin was returning with much more than the rest.

Joseph Is Alive

The journey home must have been filled with all sorts of conversation. The trip may have passed quickly with so much to discuss, but it may have seemed long because of how anxious they were to get to Israel. They arrive safely, and they tell Jacob plainly that Joseph is still alive and he is ruler over all of Egypt. One cannot help but wonder what it must have been like to explain to their father what they had done to Joseph twenty-two years ago and why they had allowed him to believe a lie for so long. At first, Jacob does not believe them, but when he saw the wagons his spirit revived and hope rushed in quickly. For twenty-two years, Jacob had been trapped in a prison of grief and despair, but now everything had changed in an instant. Joseph is alive.

Things To Consider:

  • Have you ever had to contend with relief and pain simultaneously?
  • Is it difficult to receive forgiveness when you have wronged someone?
  • Can God's sovereignty and man's responsibility be reconciled? If so, how? If not, why?
  • Why is God's plan more important?
  • How should we respond when things happen that we don't understand?
  • How does God show his sovereignty over Pharaoh?
  • Why do you think Joseph gave Benjamin more? 
  • Was it wise to give Benjamin more? Why or why not?
  • How should we cope with grief and depression?
  • Why is hope so life giving?