Joseph’s big reveal
“I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?”1Joseph couldn’t take it anymore. “Clear the room!” he screamed. His servants left. Only he and his brothers stayed. 2Joseph started to cry, sobbing so loudly that his servants heard it in the other rooms. Someone carried the news to Pharaoh’s palace. 3When Joseph was finally able to speak, he blurted it out to his brothers: “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” His brothers stood speechless, too stunned to say a word.
4“Please,” Joseph said, “come closer to me.” They stepped closer. He said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold to Egypt. 5Don’t get upset. Don’t get mad at yourselves because you sold me into slavery. God sent me here before you got here. He did it to save lives.
6Drought has devastated the land for two years. The bad news is that we’ve got five more years to go. During this time no one is going to plow fields or harvest crops. Nothing will grow.
You didn’t send me here, God did7God sent me here ahead of you so I could get everything set up to save you, your families, and many others. 8You weren’t the ones who sent me here. God sent me. He put me in this position as Pharaoh’s top adviser, household manager, and governor over the entire land of Egypt. 9Hurry and go up to my father and give him this message. ‘Here’s what your son Joseph wants us to tell you: “God has put me in charge of the entire land of Egypt. Come down to see me. Please hurry and come right away. 10You can live with your family and flocks and herds in the land of Goshen, near me. 11I’ll take care of you there. We still have five years of drought ahead of us. If you stay where you are, you and your family will lose everything you have.”’” 12Joseph then said, “Look at me. You can see for yourself that everything I’m telling you is true. All of you see it, including my brother Benjamin. I am your brother. 13Go tell my father about my honored position here, and about everything else you’ve seen here in Egypt. Give him the wonderful news. Hurry and bring my father down here.”
14Tears flowing, Joseph fell into the arms of Benjamin. They held tight to each other, both crying. 15Still crying, Joseph kissed each one of his brothers. Afterward, they talked.
Pharaoh invites Joseph’s family to Egypt16News of this happy reunion reached Pharaoh’s house: “Joseph’s brothers have come to town.” Pharaoh and his officials were delighted. 17Pharaoh told Joseph, “Deliver this message to your brothers. ‘Here’s what I want you to do. Load up your pack animals and go back to the land of Canaan. 18Get your father, all of your families, and everything you own. Bring them down to me. I will give you the best land we have here in Egypt. You will enjoy the best of everything we have to offer.’”
Pharaoh sends wagons for the move19Pharaoh also told Joseph, “Deliver this message to your brothers, too. ‘I want you to take wagons from here in Egypt. They will help you bring back your children, your wives, and your father. 20Don’t worry about leaving behind some of your belongings. You’ll get your pick of the best of everything we have here in Egypt.’”
21The sons of Israel did as they were told. Joseph supplied them with the wagons, as Pharaoh had told him to do. Joseph also gave them provisions for the trip. 22In addition, Joseph gave each of his brothers a change of clothes. But he gave Benjamin five changes of clothes along with 7.5 pounds of silver. 23Joseph sent supplies to his father as well: 10 male donkeys loaded with some of the best products Egypt had to offer, and 10 female donkeys loaded with grain, bread and other supplies for the trip.
24So Joseph sent his brothers off. As they headed out, he yelled over to them, “Hey, don’t be arguing with each other on your way home!” 25Joseph’s brothers left Egypt and went up to their father in Canaan. 26When they arrived, they gave him the wonderful news, “Joseph is alive! Not only that, he is the governor over the entire land of Egypt.” Jacob was stunned. He did not believe them.
27But when his sons delivered Joseph’s message and when Jacob saw for himself the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry the family back to Egypt, Jacob was ecstatic. 28Israel said, “It’s true! My son Joseph is alive! I have to go see him before I die.”
Israel and Palestinian territories.
Jacob’s new name, given by God (Genesis 32:28).
300 shekels, or 3.4 kg.
In the climax of this story about Joseph—the story that consumes about one fourth of the book of Genesis—Joseph finally tells his brothers who he is. In that moment, after all that the brothers had been through with Joseph over what may have been a stretch of two years, they probably experienced an explosion inside the head. What do you think some of those thoughts, questions, and exclamations might have been?
Probably the top question on their mind was this: “Is he going to kill me?” This is a question that will linger throughout the last chapters of Genesis. It will resurface after their father dies. Joseph said several things to reassure them. They show up in Genesis 45:5-9. Which one of those lines do you think would have been most reassuring?
Joseph gives each of his brothers gifts of money and clothing. And once again he overdoes it with Benjamin. If you had been there to advise him before he passed out those gifts, what would you have told him?
Joseph invited his entire extended family to move down to Egypt and weather out the remaining five years of the drought along the usually drought-resistant Nile River. What does an invitation like that say about Joseph?
By the time Joseph invites his family down, he has been on the job in Egypt for at least nine years—through seven years of bumper crops and two years of drought. When the king finds out about Joseph’s family coming down, he donates supplies to help get them to Egypt. What does that suggest about the value he places on Joseph?
We get mixed signals about why Joseph says he will move his family into Goshen, among the rich grazing pastures of the Nile River Delta. What do the following quotes suggest about Goshen and why Joseph is relocating his family there?
- “You can live with your family and flocks and herds in the land of Goshen, near me” (45:10).
- “I [Pharaoh] will give you the best land we have here in Egypt” (45:18).
- “Live here in the region of Goshen because it’s away from where most other Egyptians live. Egyptians hate shepherds” (46:34).
Jacob is elated when he finds out Joseph is alive. Throughout the rest of the story, and even during Jacob’s deathbed conversations with his sons, there’s no indication he ever knew what his 10 sons had done to Joseph. If you weighed the pros and cons of telling Jacob the truth, what are some of the arguments worth considering?
LIFE APPLICATION. Once Joseph lets his brothers get over the shock of seeing him alive after 22 years, “Still crying, Joseph kissed each one of his brothers. Afterward, they talked” (45:15). Have you ever experienced or witnessed something like that? If so, what does it look like and what does it feel like?