And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spoke roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Where do you come from? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food.’ Genesis 42:7
‘…Behold, ye have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out’
In the past two lessons we have been studying about Joseph, the son of Jacob. Today we plan to study the rest of the story of Joseph and, in so doing, to come to the end of the first section of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament), the book of Genesis. We have already seen that Jacob, Abraham’s grandson, had twelve sons.
Joseph was the eleventh son.
They all lived in the land of Canaan, the land which, as you know, God had promised to give to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
When Joseph was a young man, he dreamed that his older brothers would, one day,
bow down before him.
But his older brothers despised him and his dreams, and sold him as a slave into the land of Egypt. However, God delivered Joseph from all his troubles, and gave him the wisdom to interpret the dream of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. With God’s help, Joseph predicted the severe seven-year famine which was to take place throughout the land. Thus,
Pharaoh appointed Joseph supreme ruler over the whole land of Egypt.
After the seven years of plenty ended, we saw that the famine, which Joseph had predicted, came upon Egypt and upon the land of Canaan. However, in the land of Egypt there was grain stored up in abundance because of the grace and wisdom which God gave to Joseph.
When Jacob heard that Egypt had grain, he sent Joseph’s ten older brothers to go to buy some. But he did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s younger brother, along with them for fear that some harm would come to him. Next, we saw the ten older brothers arrive in Egypt and prostrate themselves before their brother Joseph, thus
fulfilling that which Joseph had dreamed long before.
Joseph recognized his older brothers, but they did not recognize him, because they had not seen him for more than twenty years and,
in their minds, Joseph was dead.
We will now conclude the story to see how Joseph made himself known to his brothers. Joseph did not immediately reveal himself to his brothers, because he wanted to test them first, to know whether their deceitful and wicked hearts had changed. So, the Scriptures say: “And Joseph saw his brethren,
and he knew them,
but made himself strange unto them, and spoke roughly unto them; and he said unto them, From where come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food.” (Gen. 42:7)
Joseph asked them many questions, accused them of being spies and locked them in prison. Joseph wanted to make them think about their lives and the condition of their hearts before God. Three days later,
Joseph allowed them to depart,
but kept one of them in prison, telling the others to return to Egypt with their younger brother Benjamin, their father’s last born.
After many months, the older brothers returned to Egypt to buy more grain, bringing Benjamin, their younger brother, along with them. When they arrived, they again met Joseph, the ruler of the land–but still they did not recognize him. Joseph had them brought into his house, which caused them to be very much afraid. He then put on a great feast for them, making them sit around the table in the order of their ages, beginning with the eldest to the youngest, and giving them food from his table. Benjamin received five times more food than the others. Perhaps
to see if they would be jealous of Benjamin, as they had been jealous of him. However, not one of them showed any jealousy toward their younger brother, Benjamin.
After the feast, Joseph ordered a servant to fill their sacks with grain and to hide
his special silver cup
in Benjamin’s sack. After Joseph’s brothers had left, Joseph sent his chief steward to pursue them and to accuse them of stealing. When the chief steward caught up with them, he said,
“Why have you repaid good with evil?
Did you not take the cup from which my master drinks?” They replied, “We did not take it. Let the one with whom you find the cup die and we ourselves will become your slaves!” The chief steward replied, “Whoever is found to have the cup will become my slave, but the rest of you may go on your way.”
The chief steward searched all the sacks, beginning with the sack of the eldest and ending with the sack of the youngest—and found the cup
in Benjamin’s sack!
At this, Joseph’s older brothers tore their clothes, and returned to the city, and threw themselves to the ground before Joseph. Joseph then said to them, “What have you done? Did you think you could deceive me?” Judah, the fourth son of Jacob, said to him, “What can we say? How can we clear ourselves? God has revealed our wrongdoing and our unrighteousness! We are your slaves, we and the one with whom you found the cup!”
Joseph replied, “Only the man with whom the cup was found will be my slave. The rest of you may return in peace to your father.” Then
Judah came near to Joseph
and told him again of the anguish which his father had in letting Benjamin accompany them to Egypt. After this, Judah pleaded with Joseph to have mercy on them and to allow Benjamin to return home to his father. Judah also asked that he, Judah, become Joseph’s slave instead of Benjamin. When Joseph saw the anguish which the brothers had because of their past sins, and the pity they had for their father and their younger brother, Joseph knew that
He knew that the time had come to make himself known to his brothers!
Thus, the Scriptures say: (Gen. 45) “Then Joseph could not control himself before all them who stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren. And
he wept aloud:
and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard. And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were terrified at his presence. And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said,
I am Joseph, your brother,
whom ye sold to Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me here; for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in which there shall neither be ploughing nor harvest. And
God sent me before you
to preserve you a future in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now
it was not you that sent me here, but God:
and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout the land of Egypt. Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son, Joseph: God hath made me lord of all Egypt; come down unto me, tarry not; and thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children’s children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast. And there will
I nourish thee;
yet there are five years of famine;
lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty. And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother, Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you. And ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that ye have seen; and ye shall haste and bring my father here. And he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck. Moreover, he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them; and after that his brethren talked with him. And the report thereof was heard in Pharaoh’s house, saying,
and it pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren, This do ye; load your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan; and take your father and your households, and come unto me; and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land. Now thou art commanded, this do ye: take the wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come. Also regard not your furniture; for
the good of all the land of Egypt is yours.
And the children of Israel did so; and Joseph gave them wagons, according to the commandment of Pharaoh, and gave them provision for the way. To all of them he gave each man changes of raiment; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver, and five changes of raiment. And to his father he sent after this manner: ten asses loaded with the good things of Egypt, and ten she asses loaded with grain and food for his father’s way. So
he sent his brethren away,
and they departed; and he said unto them, See that ye fall not out by the way. And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan and Jacob, their father, and told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob’s heart fainted; and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob, their father, revived: and Israel said, It is enough: Joseph my son is yet alive;
I will go and see him before I die.”
After this, the Scriptures tell how Jacob and his family moved out of the land of Canaan and headed for
Jacob offered a sacrifice along the way, and there God spoke to him, saying, “And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation. I will go down with thee into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation. I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again; and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.” (Gen. 46:3,4)
After a long journey, Jacob and his family arrived in the land of Egypt. How happy Jacob was to see his beloved son Joseph after so many years! Thus Jacob, who is also called
and his family, settled in Egypt, in the region of Goshen. There they increased greatly in numbers and became a very large tribe. Jacob lived in Egypt for seventeen years. In all, he lived to be 147 years old. Thus, Jacob, the father of the tribes of Israel, died, and went to be with God on high. Joseph and his brothers and all the people of Egypt mourned for him for seventy days. Jacob’s sons buried their father in the land of Canaan,
in the tomb of Abraham his grandfather.
In the last chapter of the book of Genesis, chapter fifty, the Scripture says: (Gen. 50:15-26) “And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will perhaps hate us, and will certainly repay us all the evil which we did unto him. And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying, so shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for
they did unto thee evil:
and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spoke unto him. And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we are thy servants. And Joseph said unto them, Fear not; for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but
God meant it unto good,
to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore fear ye not; I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spoke kindly unto them. And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father’s house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years. And Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation: the children also of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were brought up upon Joseph’s knees. And Joseph said unto his brethren,
and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from here. So
being and hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.”
This is how the book of Genesis ends. “So Joseph died . . . and . . . was put in a coffin in Egypt.” This book, which began with the story of how God created life, ends with a story of death. Because of Adam’s sin, death has come to all men. Like it or not, “the wages of sin is death!” (Rom. 6:23) Even a good man like Joseph, who bore the title
Preserver of Life,
had to die, because he, too, was a descendant of Adam with the roots of sin in his heart. Joseph, with the help of God, was able to preserve the people of Egypt, and his family, from starving to death, but
he could not preserve them from death itself.
Yet we can praise God with joyful hearts because, in the book of Genesis, we also read about God’s wonderful promise to send us an all-sufficient Savior who would conquer death itself. Death is a result of sin. The Savior God promised to send would deliver Adam’s descendants from the root of sin and the penalty of sin. The root of sin is the devil and the evil heart of man. The penalty of sin is
death and hell.
The Savior whom God promised to send has conquered them all and can transform the lives of those who believe in Him.
You who are studying today, do you know this all-sufficient Savior who has defeated Satan and sin, death and hell, and offers eternal life to all who believe in His Name? The holy Gospel speaks of this Savior saying: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people. And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us … as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, who have been since the ages began” (Luke 1:68-70).
In our next lesson, God willing, we will begin the second book in the Pentateuch, which is called Exodus.
God bless you as you consider this verse of Scripture which summarises the book of Genesis:
“But where sin aboundeth, [God’s] grace did much more abound!” (Rom. 5:20)
We would invite you to answer the questions attached and send them together with any questions that you might have