Genesis: The Beginning
Joseph Tells His Story 2-9-16
Genesis 45, 46 & 47
Yesterday, we read about Joseph’s brothers returning to Egypt. Today, in our lesson Joseph will tell his story and reveal his identity.
With the brothers bowing before him and after listening to Judah explain the value of Benjamin in the father’s life, Joseph sends his attendants out of the room (no interpreter this time) and begins to weep as he says to his brothers, “I am Joseph!” Everything in me pauses in this moment; I can’t read further. I can only image how Joseph must have felt as he revealed his identity to his brothers who at one time hated him and wanted him dead…I can only image how the brothers must have felt to know the very one they betrayed had shown them mercy. Joseph is such a foreshadow of Jesus here for me.
Joseph wants to know about his father, Israel (Jacob); “Is my father still alive?” The brothers cannot respond (think blank stare), because they are still trying to process the information just given them…BY THEIR BROTHER JOSEPH! So, to help a brother out, Joseph instructs these glassy eyed brothers not to blame themselves; rather, it was God who sent him to Egypt ahead of them so he could preserve the family during the seven years of famine. God used the character immaturity, selfishness, and harshness in Joseph’s brothers to bring about a higher purpose; God sent a vision to guide Joseph in the kingdom assignment. God is sovereign over the affairs of human beings; which is difficult for us to comprehend. The brothers are instructed to go get Israel and bring him and his entire camp to Goshen (a fertile area NE of the Nile delta) where Joseph will watch over and provide for them; the prophetic dream is complete. Joseph continues weeping as he hugs Benjamin, “I really am Joseph!” Then, Joseph kisses each of his brothers; eventually they are able to open their mouths and actually speak!
When Pharaoh hears from the attendants that Joseph’s brothers have arrived, he extends them the best Egypt has to offer. He sends wagons to carry the women and children full of supplies, new clothing, and silver. Pharaoh sends donkeys with grain and bread for the journey. (Note, this Pharaoh is appreciative for everything Joseph has done, but a new Pharaoh will take his place in the future and enslave the Hebrews). When the brothers arrive back in Canaan, they shout to their father, “Joseph is still alive! And he is governor of Egypt!” Like his sons, Israel (Jacob) is stunned and speechless. It takes hearing the news a second time for it to sink in for Israel, “It must be true! My son Joseph is alive! I must go and see him before I die.” Israel will enjoy an abundant family reunion with feasting in the midst of famine; God’s promise of provision revealed.
Israel packs up his family and heads for Egypt; sixty-six direct descendants are relocated. They stop at Beersheba (the well of Abraham where he rested on his way to Egypt during a famine) to offer a sacrifice to God. During the night, Israel has a dream of reassurance from the Lord and is told he will die in Egypt, but Joseph will be there to close his eyes. God is the Giver of life and alone knows the number of our days.
Joseph meets his father (and family) in Goshen after being apart 22 years; the father and the son hug for an extended time. Then, Israel tells Joseph, “Now, I am ready to die, since I have seen your face again and know you are still alive.” Joseph explains that Pharaoh will call for his father and when he does Israel is to tell Pharaoh they are shepherds; this will allow them to settle in Goshen with Pharaoh’s blessing.
Joseph takes five of his brothers to meet Pharaoh; he asks their occupation. They reply they are shepherds and request permission to live in Goshen. Pharaoh honors their requests and even extends an invitation for them to serve him by taking charge of his livestock, too. Then, Joseph introduces his 130 year old father, Israel, to Pharaoh. Israel pronounces a blessing over Pharaoh (remember God said he would bless those who bless Israel). By Israel settling near Egypt (but not in it) they have the benefits of supplies, but can remain separate in culture. They are able to maintain their own culture and worship the one true God.
The famine takes its toll on Egypt and Canaan. Joseph sells grain for money until the money is all in Pharaoh’s treasury. Eventually, people offer Joseph livestock and land for food (the land of Egypt—except what belongs to the priests—becomes the property of Pharaoh). People are given seed to farm the land, but because of the famine a one-fifth tax is imposed on the harvested crops. This actually saves their lives and keeps the crops growing and attended.
In the midst of this famine, the people of Israel are fruitful and their population grows. Joseph’s father, Israel, is now 147 years old and he calls for his son to take an oath, “Do not bury me in Egypt. When I die please take my body out of Egypt and bury me with my ancestors.” So Joseph promises. Joseph has been and continues to be a man of his word; a man who is used by God.
Like Joseph, may we continue to trust God with our days. “Happy is the man/woman whose eye is open to the see the hand of God in every-day events, for to him/her life always possesses a wonderful and true joy and glory.” W.H. Griffith.