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The Blue Letter Bible

David Guzik :: Study Guide for Genesis 45

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Joseph is Reunited With His Brothers

A. Joseph reveals himself to his brothers.

1. (Gen 45:1-3) The emotional revelation.

Then Joseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, "Make everyone go out from me!" So no one stood with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard it. Then Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph; does my father still live?" But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence.

a. Joseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him: Joseph ordered all the Egyptians out of the room and was then alone with his brothers. His great emotion showed Joseph did not cruelly manipulate his brothers. He was directed by God to make these arrangements and it hurt him to do it.

b. Joseph made himself known to his brothers: This probably means that Joseph said he was Joseph and showed his brothers that he was circumcised. Jewish legend says the brothers could never believe this high Egyptian official was Joseph unless he showed he was circumcised.

c. But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence: Because of the punishment they anticipated, the great emotion of Joseph, his manner of revelation, and the total shock of learning Joseph was not only alive but right in front of them, the brothers were dismayed. The ancient Hebrew word for dismayed (bahal) actually means, "amazed" or "frightened" or even "terrified."

i. Come near to me in Genesis 45:4 implies the brothers cringed back in terror. Jewish legends say the brothers were so shocked that their souls left their bodies and it was only by a miracle of God their souls came back.

ii. Their dismay is a shadow of what will happen when the Jews see Jesus for who He is again: And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. (Zechariah 12:10)

2. (Gen 45:4-8) Joseph's testimony.

And Joseph said to his brothers, "Please come near to me." So they came near. Then he said: "I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

a. God sent me before you to preserve life: Joseph did not diminish what the brothers did (whom you sold into Egypt). Yet he saw that God's purpose in it all was greater than the evil of the brothers.

i. When we are sinned against we are tempted to fail in one or both of these areas. We are tempted to play "let's pretend you never did it," or we are tempted to fail to see the over-arching hand of God in every circumstance.

ii. It is fair to ask, "Why was Joseph in Egypt? Was it because of the sin of his brothers or because of the good plan of God?" The answer is that both options are true.

b. God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance: All Joseph's sorrows were for a purpose. God used them to preserve his family and provide the conditions for it to become a nation. Joseph was a victim of men, but God turned it around for His glory. None of it was for a loss.

i. If this family does not go into Egypt, then they assimilate among the pagan tribes of the Promised Land and cease to become a distinctive people. God had to put them in a place where they could grow, yet stay a distinctive nation.

ii. Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote a remarkably wide-selling book titled When Bad Things Happen to Good People. It sold more than a half a million copies before going to paperback and was on the New York Times best-seller list for a whole year. The whole point of his book is to say God is all loving but not all powerful, that God is good, but not sovereign. So, when bad things happen to good people, it is because events are out of God's control. Kushner advises his readers to "learn to love [God] and forgive him despite his limitations." This certainly is not the God of the Bible!

c. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God: Joseph realized God ruled his life, not good men, evil men, circumstances, or fate. God was in control, and because God was in control all things worked together for good.

B. Joseph sends his brothers home.

1. (Gen 45:9-15) Joseph tells his brothers to go home and to bring their father and find protection from the famine.

"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 tarry. You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near to me, you and your children, your children's children, your flocks and your herds, and all that you have. There I will provide for you, lest you and your household, and all that you have, come to poverty; for there are still five years of famine."' And behold, your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my mouth that speaks to you. So you shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that you have seen; and you shall hurry and bring my father down here." Then he fell on his brother Benjamin's neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. Moreover he kissed all his brothers and wept over them, and after that his brothers talked with him.

a. Thus says your son Joseph: When Jacob heard this it was one of the greatest days of his life. He had the joy of learning that the favored son, who will save his brethren, who was given up for dead, is now alive.

b. He kissed all his brothers and wept over them: Joseph did not exclude those who had been especially cruel to him. His heart was open to his brothers both as a group and as individuals.

c. After that his brothers talked with him: This was a wonderful conversation. There was a lot to catch up on.

2. (Gen 45:16-24) Pharaoh and Joseph send the brothers home with many gifts.

Now the report of it was heard in Pharaoh's house, saying, "Joseph's brothers have come." So it pleased Pharaoh and his servants well. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Say to your brothers, 'Do this: Load your animals and depart; go to the land of Canaan. Bring your father and your households and come to me; I will give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you will eat the fat of the land. Now you are commanded; do this: Take carts out of the land of Egypt for your little ones and your wives; bring your father and come. Also do not be concerned about your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.'" Then the sons of Israel did so; and Joseph gave them carts, according to the command of Pharaoh, and he gave them provisions for the journey. He gave to all of them, to each man, changes of garments; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five changes of garments. And he sent to his father these things: ten donkeys loaded with the good things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain, bread, and food for his father for the journey. So he sent his brothers away, and they departed; and he said to them, "See that you do not become troubled along the way."

a. Joseph gave them carts, according to the command of Pharaoh, and he gave them provisions for the journey: The sons of Israel received transportation, provision, garments, and riches because of who their favored brother was. Pharaoh blessed the sons of Jacob for Joseph's sake.

i. "To return to Canaan with 'carts from Egypt' was the cultural equivalent of landing a jumbo jet among a tribe of isolated savages. It would be the stuff legends are made of." (Boice)

b. See that you do not become troubled along the way: The idea behind the words "become troubled" is literally become angry or quarrel. Joseph knew as soon as these men left his presence they would be tempted to act in selfish, unspiritual ways. They had to anticipate and guard against this.

3. (Gen 45:25-28) Jacob hears the good news - that Joseph lives.

Then they went up out of Egypt, and came to the land of Canaan to Jacob their father. And they told him, saying, "Joseph is still alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt." And Jacob's heart stood still, because he did not believe them. But when they told him all the words which Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived. Then Israel said, "It is enough. Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die."

a. He did not believe them: Jacob was told Joseph was dead and believed it. Then he was told Joseph was alive, and he did not believe it until his sons told him the words of Joseph and showed him the blessings that came to them through Joseph. Then he believed Joseph was alive, though he had not yet seen him.

i. The only way people will know Jesus is alive is if we tell them His words and show them His blessings in our lives.

b. It is enough. Joseph my son is still alive: Knowing that the favored son was alive - back from the dead, as it were - changed Israel's testimony from all these things are against me (Genesis 42:36) to it is enough.

i. This testimony of faith comes from Israel, not Jacob. When Jacob was in charge, we saw a whining, self-pitying, complaining, unbelieving type of man. But Israel, the man God conquered, had a testimony of faith.

© 2006 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission

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