After the death of Jacob, Joseph’s fearful brothers attempted to beg for forgiveness of their past sins. The final chapter dealt with Joseph’s reassurance and comfort toward his brothers and the old age of Joseph. From this lesson, we can learn about guilt, forgiveness and the passing on of one’s faith and hope to the next generations.
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- “Perhaps Joseph will hate us” (50:15): While in Hebrew, the phrase can literally be translated as “Joseph may cherish animosity against us,” in Greek-Septuagint, “perhaps Joseph bear a grudge against us.”
- “[He] may actually repay us” (50:15): The phrase can literally be translated as “he will surely bring back in retribution to us,” in Hebrew, emphasizing the verb “bring back” twice in the same phrase.
- “They sent messengers to Joseph” (50:16): In Hebrew, the phrase can literally be translated as “they commanded Joseph.”
- Trespass (50:17): The word can literally be translated as “crime,” “offense,” “rebellion,” “dispute,” or “sin” in Hebrew.
- Evil (50:17): The word can literally be translated in Hebrew as “wickedness” (Gen 6:5, 39:9; Judg 9:56, 20:3, 12;
1 Sam 12:17, 20, 25:39; 2 Sam 3:39; 1 Kgs 1:52, 2:44; Job 22:5; Psa 55:15, 94:23, 107:34; Prov 14:32; Isa 47:10; Jer 3:2), “harm” (Gen 26:29, 31:52; Ex 32:12, 14; Num 35:23; Judg 15:3; 1 Sam 24:9, 25:17, 26; 2 Sam 12:18, 18:32; Neh 6:2; Est 9:2; Prov 3:30), “sorrow” (Gen 44:29), “wretchedness” (Num 11:15), “bad” (Num 24:13), “adversity” (Deut 29:21; 1 Sam 10:19; 2 Sam 12:11; Job 2:11, 42:11; Ecc 7:14), “disaster” or “calamity” (Deut 32:23; Judg 2:15, 20:34, 41; 2 Sam 15:14, 17:14; 1 Kgs 9:9, 14:10, 21:21, 29, 22:23; 2 Kgs 6:33, 21:12, 22:16, 20; 1 Chr 21:15; 2 Chr 7:22; 18:22; 20:9; 34:24, 28; Prov 24:16, 28:14; Jer 1:14, 2:3), “wronged” (Judg 11:27), “destruction” ( 2 Sam 24:16), “trouble” ( 1 Kgs 11:25, 20:7; 2 Kgs 14:10; 2 Chr 25:19; Psa 27:5, 41:1, 71:20, 88:3, 107:26; Prov 11:27; Jer 2:27-28), “tragedy” ( 1 Chr 7:23), “distress” (Neh 1:3, 2:17), “disturbed” (Neh 2:10), “afflictions” (Psa 34:19, 107:39), “hurt” (Psa 35:4, 26, 38:12, 41:7, 70:2, 71:13, 24; Ecc 5:13), “doom” (Prov 16:4; Jer 11:17, 17:18, 26:13, 19, 35:17), “misery” (Ecc 8:6), and “difficult” (Ecc 12:1).
- “Before your father died he commanded” (50:16): In Greek-Septuagint, the phrase can literally be translated as “your father gave a command under oath during his process of dying.”
- Forgive (50:17) can literally be translated as “tolerate” in Greek-Septuagint or “take away” in Hebrew. Both the word “forgive” in this verse are using a command format in the Hebrew language.
- “Do not be afraid” (50:19): In the Scriptures, the mentioned expression is commonly used by the Lord to His people. The examples are as follows: the Lord comforted Abraham (Gen 15:1), the Lord comforted Hagar (Gen 21:17), the Lord comforted Isaac (Gen 26:24) and the Lord comforted Jacob (Gen 46:3). In addition, the idiom was used by Rachel’s midwife to comfort her when she was in hard labor (Gen 35:17) and by Joseph’s steward to comfort the brothers of Joseph when they did not know why they were brought into Joseph’s house (Gen 43:18-23).
- “For am I in the place of God?” (50:19): The phrase can literally be translated as “for I am belonging to God” in Greek-Septuagint. Instead of putting the phrase in a question format, “Am I in the place of God,” the literal translation of the Greek-Septuagint places it in an answer format, “I am the one who belongs to God.”
- Meant (50:20): The mentioned verb can literally be used for several meanings in Hebrew. First, the word can be used as references to “think” (Isa 10:7; Gen 38:15;
1 Sam 1:13; Job 35:2; Neh 6:2; Jer 18:8), “meditate” (Mal 3:16) and “count” (Job 19:15). Second, the word can be used as references to “make a plan” (Ezek 38:10; Psa 140:2; Zech 7:10), “plot” (Psa 10:2, 35:4; Nah 1:11; Est 9:24), “devise” (Prov 16:30; Psa 21:11, 35:20; Mic 2:1; Ezek 11:2; Psa 36:4, 41:7, 52:2; Jer 48:2; 2 Sam 14:14; Zech 8:17 [ESV]), “purpose” (Psa 140:4) and “intend” (Job 6:26). Third, the word can be used as references to “impute” ( 2 Sam 19:19; Psa 32:2). Fourth, the word can be used as references to “esteem” (Isa 53:3, 4) and “regards” (Job 41:27; Isa 13:17, 33:8). Fifth, the word can be used as references to “invent” (Amos 6:5; 2 Chr 26:15), “design” (Ex 26:1, 31:4, 35:32, 35) and “accomplish” ( 2 Chr 2:14).
- “You meant evil…God meant it for good” (50:20): While in Hebrew, the phrase can literally be translated as “you who devised evil…God had devised for good,” in Greek-Septuagint, “you decided on evil against me…God decided on good for me.”
- “He comforted” (50:21): The verb “comfort” in Hebrew can literally be translated into several meanings, such as “having compassion” (Psa 90:13), “grieving” (Judg 21:6, 15), “moving to pity” (Judg 2:18), “changing one’s mind” (Ex 13:17), “relenting” (Psa 106:45; Jer 4:28, 15:6, 20:16; Joel 2:14; Zech 8:14;
1 Sam 15:29; Jon 3:9; Ezek 24:14; Amos 7:3), “repenting” (Job 42:6; Jer 31:19) or “regretting” ( 1 Sam 15:11, 35; Gen 6:6-7 [ESV]). In addition, the emphasis of Joseph’s comfort to his brothers after Joseph answered to them his refusal to take vengeance against their evil was similar to that in the book of Isaiah. The writer of the book of Isaiah recorded how the people of God were comforted because their sins and iniquity had been pardoned by God (Isa 40:1-2).
- “He…spoke kindly to them” (50:21): The expression can literally be translated as “he spoke to their hearts” in Hebrew.
- “One hundred and ten years” (50:22): Apart from Joseph, Joshua the son of Nun also reached this age (Josh 24:29; Judg 2:8).
- “Third generation” (50:23): The Scriptures also used the mentioned phrase to describe the great duration of God’s judgment upon his people (Ex 20:5, 34:7; Num 14:18; Deut 5:9).
- Machir (50:23): The name can literally be translated as “one who is sold” in Hebrew, which also similarly describes what had happened to Joseph (Gen 37:28, 45:5). According to the book of
1st Chronicles, the Syrian concubine of Manasseh “bore him Machir the father of Gilead” ( 1 Chr 7:14). Furthermore, Machir was known as “a man of war” (Josh 17:1) and “from Machir rulers came down” (Judg 5:14). In addition, the tribe of Machir took the regions of Gilead and “dispossessed the Amorites who were in it” (Num 32:39), “Ashtaroth and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan” (Josh 13:31).
- “The children of Machir…brought up on Joseph’s knees” (50:23): The idiom can be literally translated in Hebrew as “the children of Machir…had been brought forth upon the thighs of Joseph.” The examples from the Scriptures show that the idiom can be used to refer to the adoption of other people’s child as one’s own. For example, a similar idiom is used in Gen 30:3 to refer to Rachel’s adoption of Bilhah’s children as her own. In addition, in the example of Jacob, although the expression “brought up to one’s knees” was absent in Gen 48:5, Jacob directly adopted two of Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, to be his own—a practice previously done by Jacob before Joseph did the same to the children of Machir. Finally, in the Scriptures, the mentioned idiom’s usage is closely related to giving birth and nursing a child, and therefore, having a child(Job 3:11-12).
- “God will surely visit you” (50:24): The expression can be literally translated as “God will surely visit you graciously” in Hebrew, emphasizing the word “visit” twice. Moreover, in Greek-Septuagint, the phrase can literally be translated as “under God’s act of watching over, God will look after to help you.” The examples from the Scriptures show that God’s visitation can bring about both harm (Ex 20:5, 34:7; Num 14:18; Deut 5:9) or good (Ruth 1:6; Ps 106:4).
- “He swore to Abraham…” (50:24): In Greek-Septuagint, the phrase can literally be translated as “he swore to our fathers Abraham…,“ adding the emphasis that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were “our fathers.”
- Coffin (50:26), according to a biblical reference, was a chest or a case, which was commonly constructed of sycamore wood.
The use of the definite article on coffin (the coffin) in Hebrew indicated that the coffin was a sarcophagus (stone coffin with carvings) generally used in Egypt for a high-ranking Egyptian. [ref]
Moreover, the word “coffin” can literally be translated in Hebrew as “chest” or “ark.” For example, the same Hebrew word is used to refer to a chest of money offering (
2 Kgs 12:10, 11; 2 Chr 24:8, 10-11). The word can also be used to refer to an ark of the covenant (Ex 25:10, 14-16, 21-22, 26:33-34, 37:5, 39:35, 40:3, 5, 20, Lev 16:2; Num 3:31, 7:89, 10:33; Deut 10:1-5, 31:9, 25; Josh 3:3, 6, 8, 6:9-13; Judg 20:27; 1 Sam 3:3, 4:3, 6:18).
- “In Egypt” (50:26): Joseph’s coffin remained in Egypt until it was carried out from Egypt by the children of Israel during the period of Moses and Joshua. The writer of the book of Joshua recorded that “the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel had brought up out of Egypt, they buried at Shechem, in the plot of ground which Jacob had brought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for one hundred pieces of silver” (Josh 24:32).
List several similar keywords found in the book of Genesis 50 and in the book of Exodus in general.Hide Answer
The similar keywords found in the book of Genesis 50 and in the book of Exodus in general are as follows: “the servants of Pharaoh” (Gen 50:7, Ex 10:7, 11:3), “little ones…flocks…herds” (Gen 50:8; Ex 10:9-10, 24, 12:38), “chariots and horsemen” (Gen 50:9; Ex 14:9, 17-20), “gathering” or “camp [ESV]” (Gen 50:9; Ex 19:16-17, 32:19, 26-27), “go up” (Gen 50:6, 7, 9, 14, 24-25; Ex 1:10).
How would the phrase “God will surely visit you and bring you out” link the ending of the book of Genesis to: The overarching theme of the book of Exodus? See Ex 3:6-10, 4:31, 12:40-42, 13:5-8 and 33:1.Hide Answer
The phrase “God will surely visit you and bring you out” in Gen 50:24 would link the ending of the book of Genesis to the overarching theme of the book of Exodus. This phrase was repeatedly found several times in the book of Exodus as follows:
First, in the book of Exodus 3. Just as Joseph had predicted the Lord’s visitation and deliverance upon the children of Israel, the writer of the book of Exodus restated this promise in Exodus 3. He wrote: “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob…I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt” (Ex 3:6-10).
Second, in the book of Exodus 4. After the children of Israel “heard that the Lord had visited [them] and that He had looked on their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped” (Ex 4:31). The writer of the book of Exodus underlined that the Israelites “believed,” just as their forefathers had believed in God’s promise for a land of inheritance. In other words, the Israelites had faith in the Lord not only for their coming deliverance from their affliction but also for their departure out of Egypt to a good and large land, “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Ex 3:16-17).
Third, in the book of Exodus 12. Here, the children of Israel witnessed and experienced the fulfillment of God’s deliverance. The writer of the book of Exodus recorded that the children of Israel “went out from the land of Egypt…at the end of the four hundred and thirty years” and “it [was] a night of solemn observance to the Lord for bringing them out of the land of Egypt” (Ex 12:40-42). That night, the Lord physically brought out the children of Israel from the land of Egypt as Joseph had promised them when he said, “God will surely…bring you out of this land” (Gen 50:24).
Fourth, in the book of Exodus 13. After the children of Israel were brought out of the land of Egypt, Moses gave them a reminder to continually keep the observance of the unleavened bread. When the children of Israel were about to cross the Red Sea, before entering the land of Canaan, Moses emphasized to them, saying, “when the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites…which He swore to your fathers to give you…you shall keep this service [of the unleavened bread]” (Ex 13:5-8). The observance of the unleavened bread in the land of Canaan would serve as a reminder to the children of Israel that not only did the promise of Joseph come to fruition at the end of the four hundred and thirty years of their sojourn in Egypt but they also personally experienced the great deliverance of the Lord out of Egypt into the Promised Land.
Fifth, in the book of Exodus 33. Even though the Israelites committed sin against the Lord in Ex 32, the Lord was still faithful in His promise and was just in His judgment. The writer of the book of Numbers recorded that the people who had sinned against the Lord would “not see the land of which [God] swore to their fathers” (Num 14:22-23). The writer explained further that “all of [them] who were numbered, according to [their] entire number, from twenty years old and above…[would] by no means enter the land which [God] swore [He] would make [them] dwell in. But [their] little ones…[God] would bring in” (Num 14:29-32). Hence, the Lord would judge those who sinned against Him but He would bring in “their little ones” to the land of Canaan.
The phrase “God will surely…bring you out” in Gen 50:24 would link the ending of the book of Genesis to several themes in various books of the Scriptures. This phrase was often used by the writers to support their argument in reminding the people of God about the Lord God—the true God who had delivered their fathers out of Egypt into the land of promise with His mighty hands.
First, in the book of
1st Samuel. In 1st Samuel, the prophet Samuel used the phrase “the LORD who…brought your fathers up from the land of Egypt” ( 1 Sam 12:6) to remind the Israelites about the greatness of the LORD in leading the Israelites out of Egypt to the land of Canaan. At the coronation of Israel’s first king, the prophet Samuel strongly stated his warning toward their rebellion against the Lord their God by saying, “I will call to the Lord, and He will send thunder and rain, that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking a king for yourselves” ( 1 Sam 12:17). Hence, in the book of 1st Samuel, the writer pointed out that in rejecting God as their King, the Israelites had wickedly overlooked God’s great deliverance of their ancestors out of Egypt.
Second, in the book of
2nd Kings. The writer of the book of 2nd Kings mentioned the phrase “the LORD, who brought you up from the land of Egypt” ( 2 Kgs 17:36) to teach various nations that had been resettled by the king of Assyria in the city of Samaria ( 2 Kgs 17:24) to fear the God of Israel who had delivered the Israelites out of Egypt. The king of Assyria had sent one of the priests who had been “carried away from Samaria” to teach the people of the city “how they should fear the LORD” ( 2 Kgs 17:28). However, the people “continued to make gods of its own” ( 2 Kgs 17:29). The writer of the book of 2nd Kings explained further that the people of the city “feared the LORD, yet they served their own gods” ( 2 Kgs 17:30-33). Even after the people had been taught by one of the priests, “to this day”—the writing period of the book of 2nd Kings—the people still continued “practicing the former rituals” and did not follow “the law and commandment” of the LORD God who had brought up Israel from the land of Egypt ( 2 Kgs 17:34-41). Thus, the LORD, according to the book of 2nd Kings, was the God who was to be feared and worshipped.
Third, in the book of Hosea. The prophet Hosea in his book warned the Ephraimites that the God who had the power to deliver Israel out of Egypt also had the authority to punish those who sinned. The prophet Hosea recorded that Ephraim had “provoked Him to anger most bitterly; therefore his Lord will leave the guilt of his bloodshed upon him, and return his reproach upon him” (Hos 12:14). Previously the prophet had already emphasized that the LORD God “ever since the land of Egypt” would “again make [Ephraim] dwell in tents” (Hos 12:9). Here, in his message, the prophet Hosea emphasized the justice of God that the LORD would deliver those who were afflicted and the LORD would recompense those who sinned against Him.
Fourth, in the book of Jeremiah. Although the Lord would cast out the children of Israel “into a land that [they did] not know,” the Lord would “bring them back into their land which [He] gave to their fathers” (Jer 16:13, 15). In the time of the prophet Jeremiah, the children of Israel “[had] done worse than [their] fathers…each one [followed] the dictates of his own evil heart, so that no one [listened] to [the LORD]” (Jer 16:12). According to the writer of the book of Jeremiah, the scattering of the children of Israel was intense that “it [should] no more be said, ‘The LORD lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘The LORD lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands where He had driven them” (Jer 16:15). The passage not only reflected the Lord’s justice in punishing the evil heart of the children of Israel, but also revealed the Lord’s mercy and faithfulness in bringing them back from all the lands where He had scattered them into the land which He gave to their forefathers.
Describe the thought of Joseph’s brothers about Joseph after the death of their father.
Why did Jacob’s brothers consider such a thought about Joseph?Hide Answer
Joseph’s brothers considered such a thought about Joseph for a reason. Such a thought about Joseph was triggered after their father had died. The brothers assumed that the presence of Jacob, their father, among them had hindered Joseph to “repay [them] for all the evil which [they] did to him” (Gen 50:15). Thus, when Jacob died, the brothers felt that they no longer had a mediator to protect them from the vengeance of Joseph.
First, the act of sending messengers. In Gen 32:3-5, instead of meeting his brother Esau directly, Jacob “sent messengers before him to Esau his brother in the land of Seir” in order to “find favor in [his] sight” (Gen 32:3-5). Likewise, upon their father’s death, the brothers of Joseph “sent messengers to Joseph” to ask for Joseph’s forgiveness (Gen 50:15-17).
Second, the act of bowing before one’s face. In Gen 33:3, before Jacob directly met Esau, he “bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. ” Similarly, before the brothers went to Joseph, they “fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants” (Gen 50:18).
Based on the brothers’ thought about Joseph, describe and explain the significance of each of the methods with which the brothers used to approach Joseph: First method in Gen 50:15: See also Gen 37:5-8, 23-24, 42:6-45:11.Hide Answer
When the brothers thought that Joseph would hate them and might “actually repay” them for all the evil which they did to him, the brothers sent messengers to Joseph (Gen 50:16). Back home when Joseph was only a teenager, not only did the brothers harshly comment on Joseph’s words about his dreams but they also humiliated Joseph by stripping him of his tunic of many colors (Gen 37:5-8, 23-24). But ever since their encounter in Egypt, the brothers had been afraid of Joseph (Gen 42:6-45:11, 50:15-19). Thus, the brothers sent messengers to Joseph to express their fear and regret, which the brothers dared not directly convey to Joseph.
After the brothers sent messengers to Joseph, they emphasized that the messengers brought a command from Joseph’s father before he died (Gen 50:16-17). The brothers through their messengers deliberately emphasized to Joseph that it was “[his] father” who had given the command. Instead of using the phrase “our father,” the brothers wanted to remind Joseph that it was the Jacob—the father who loved him and favored him more than the rest of the brothers (Gen 37:3) and the father who made Joseph swear to bury him in the land of Canaan (Gen 50:5). In other words, if Joseph obeyed his father about his burial, then Joseph would also obey this last command of his father concerning the forgiveness for the less-favored brothers.
In conveying the command of Joseph’s father, the brothers of Joseph mentioned how the father begged Joseph twice for the forgiveness of their sin (Gen 50:17). In the message, the brothers stressed that they plead for forgiveness as “servants of the God of [Joseph’s] father.” Previously, in their encounter, Joseph admitted to the brothers that he feared God (Gen 42:18). Here in Gen 50, the brothers pleaded for forgiveness to Joseph the God fearer not as bloodlines who were less favored by Jacob but as fellow worshippers of God, as servants of the God of Jacob. Through their plea, the brothers of Joseph assumed that surely Joseph the God-fearer would also show mercy and forgive his fellow worshippers and servants of God.
When pleading for forgiveness, the brothers not only admitted their trespass and their sin but they emphasized them twice and stressed the evil of their deeds (Gen 50:16-17). Earlier when they first came to Egypt and were imprisoned, the brothers already “said to one another” concerning their guilt and distress over the sin which they had committed to Joseph (Gen 42:21-22). Only in Gen 50:16-17 did the brothers openly admitted and confessed that the trespass and the sin which they had done to Joseph before in Gen 37:23-36 was evil (Gen 50:15, 17). Here, the brothers neither tried to defend themselves nor found excuses for their trespass. But they were sincerely open with their past sin and still admitted the evil of it to Joseph.
Before Joseph had the time to reply, the brothers went in directly and “fell down before his face, and they said, ‘Behold, we are your servants’“ (Gen 50:18). The brothers had done a similar thing previously in Gen 44:14-16. Through this method, not only did the brothers genuinely acknowledged their guilt of transgression but they also sincerely repented and were willing to undergo their punishment as servants of Joseph. Their exact phrase “Behold, we are your servants” to Joseph revealed their sincere humility and their feelings of unworthiness to be Joseph’s blood brothers.
List and explain several reasons which caused Joseph to weep when the brothers spoke to him. First reason:Hide Answer
When the brothers of Joseph spoke to him about Jacob’s command to forgive the trespass of the brothers (Gen 50:16), the writer of the book of Genesis emphasized that Joseph wept (Gen 50:17). In other words, the brothers of Joseph thought that he was still holding a grudge and hating them after all those years. As if the assurance, the providence and the kindness of Joseph towards the brothers (Gen 45:4-11) were not enough to prove Joseph’s forgiveness and meant nothing to them. The brothers were still suspicious and fearful that after the death of Jacob, Joseph would turn against them and exercise his revenge (Gen 50:15). The way the brothers viewed Joseph as a vengeful person who held a past grudge had caused Joseph to weep.
Second reason:Hide Answer
Apart from thinking that Joseph hated them, the brothers also assumed that Joseph might fully repay them “for all the evil which [they] did to him” (Gen 50:15). The event of the brothers’ false accusation of being spies and their imprisonment (Gen 42:6-17) proved how powerful and fearful Joseph could be as the governor of Egypt. Although Joseph revealed his identity at the end and told his brothers not to be grieved or angry at themselves for selling him to Egypt, the brothers were still afraid of Joseph. Just as the brothers had previously experienced how Joseph, the Egyptian governor, used his power and status to falsify the thievery of Joseph’s silver cup for the purpose of detaining Benjamin (Gen 44:1-17), the brothers now assumed that Joseph, after the death of Jacob, would surely repay them the evil which they did in full with his power and status. Said otherwise, to assume that Joseph would fully pay back the brothers’ evil with evil without hesitation, the brothers had made Joseph to be viewed as a merciless and heartless person.
Third reason:Hide Answer
In this passage, the brothers of Joseph were worried about their livelihood—themselves and their little ones (Gen 50:21)—so much so that they offered themselves to become the servants of Joseph (Gen 50:18), to secure their survival in the land of Egypt. But the writer of the book of Genesis recorded that previously Joseph had already comforted and promised his brothers by saying, “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” (Gen 45:10-11). Even in Gen 50:21, in answering their anxiety, Joseph highlighted his promise again that he would “provide for [them] and [their] little ones.” Joseph lamented when the brothers spoke to him, not only because they did not believe Joseph’s promise of providence but by expressing their distress through Jacob’s command in Gen 50:16-17 they had considered him a promise-breaker.
Fourth reason:Hide Answer
In relaying the message, the brothers sent messengers to Joseph and used the authority of Jacob to mediate between them and Joseph (Gen 50:15-17). Unlike back home, where the brothers could harshly comment on Joseph’s words and humiliated Joseph by stripping him of his tunic of many colors (Gen 37:5-8, 23-24), in Gen 50:16-17 the brothers became afraid and sent messengers and used Jacob’s command as their mediator. Although earlier Joseph had already assured the brothers about their remorse by saying, “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” (Gen 45:5), the brothers were still afraid of Joseph after all these years. Their fear was at its peak after the death of Jacob that they were becoming paranoid over Joseph’s hatred against them (Gen 50:15). Joseph were grieved because the brothers viewed him as a pretentious person—only cared about the brothers when his father Jacob was still alive—and as a distant person—instead of their little brother who the brothers now considered a fearful Egyptian governor.
The event in Gen 50:18 literally fulfilled the dreams of Joseph in Gen 37:5-9. After the death of Jacob, in fear, the brothers of Joseph humbled themselves and “fell down before [Joseph’s] face, and they said, ’Behold, we are your servants’” (Gen 50:18). These very acts of the brothers were an exact fulfillment of the dreams of Joseph where the brothers’ sheaves and the eleven stars—symbolizing the brothers of Joseph—bowed down at Joseph (Gen 37:7, 9). When Joseph told the brothers about his dreams, they lashed out angrily at Joseph, refusing to be reigned and dominated by Joseph (Gen 37:8). But unknowing to the brothers and Joseph himself, the exact moment of Gen 50:18 revealed that the brothers were indeed literally being reigned—for Joseph was the governor “over all the land of Egypt” (Gen 41:41), including the land of Goshen where the brothers dwelled—and being dominated—for Joseph as the governor of Egypt had the authority to accept the brothers’ servitude proposal and therefore, they would literally become Joseph’s servants—by Joseph, both as the dreamer (Gen 37:19) and as the lord of Egypt (Gen 42:33).
If Joseph were to live in Mosaic era, how would his action in rejecting his brothers’ offer of servitude not only be in accordance to the Law but also exceeded the requirement of the Law?Hide Answer
If Joseph were to live in Mosaic era, his actions in rejecting the brothers’ offer of servitude and providing them and their little ones would not only be in accordance to the Law but also exceeded the requirement of the Law.
First, Joseph did not take advantage of the brothers’ vulnerability and he refused to accept their offer of servitude. The writer of the book of Leviticus wrote, “And if one of your brethren who dwells by you becomes poor, and sells himself to you, you shall not compel him to serve as a slave. As a hired servant and a sojourner he shall be with you, and shall serve you until the Year of Jubilee. And then he shall depart from you—he and his children with him—and shall return to his own family. He shall return to the possession of his fathers. For they are My servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves. You shall not rule over him with rigor, but you shall fear your God” (Lev 25:39-43). If Joseph were to live in Mosaic era, he could have taken the brothers as hired servants instead of slaves—for the Law prohibited one to take one’s brethren as a slave. But Joseph neither took them as slaves nor as hired servants. Instead, he considered them as they were—his blood brothers.
Second, instead of enslaving his brothers, Joseph took care of them and their little ones with his unconditional love. The writer of the book of Deuteronomy recorded, “If your brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and serves you six years, then in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. And when you send him away free from you, you shall not let him go away empty-handed; you shall supply him liberally from your flock, from your threshing floor, and from your winepress. From what the Lord has blessed you with, you shall give to him” (Deut 15:12-14). According to the Law, the master of the hired servants was to give whatever the Lord had blessed him with to his servants only after they had served the master for six years. The brothers neither served as slaves nor hired servants of Joseph, and yet Joseph provided for his brothers and their little ones (Gen 50:19). As far as Joseph was concerned, nothing had changed. The brothers still dwelt “in the best of the land” and Joseph provided them “with bread, according to the number in their families” (Gen 47:11-12).
Describe Joseph’s several responses to the fear of his brothers.Hide Answer
In replying to the fear of his brothers, Joseph gave them several responses. First, Joseph assured the brothers twice not to be afraid of him (Gen 50:19, 21). Second, Joseph explained to them that he was not “in the place of God” (Gen 50:19). Third, Joseph emphasized to them that their evil against him had been turned for good by God “in order to…save many people alive” (Gen 50:20). Fourth, Joseph ensured them that he would provide for them and their “little ones” (Gen 50:21). Fifth, Joseph “comforted them and spoke kindly to them” (Gen 50:21).
From Joseph’s phrase “for am I in the place of God,” we can learn two lessons about vengeance.
First, the Scriptures teach us that vengeance belongs to God (Psa 94:1) and the writer of the book of Deuteronomy also emphasized that the recompense of the vengeance belongs to the Lord (Deut 32:35). Therefore, according to the book of Leviticus, “[we should] not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of [our] people, but [we should] love [our] neighbor as [ourselves]” (Lev 19:18). Just as Joseph did not take advantage of the vulnerability of his brothers—though Joseph had the option to take them as hired servants—we ought not recompense vengeance by our own hands and also ought not take advantage of another’s susceptible condition; for vengeance and its recompense belong to the Lord.
Second, the Scriptures teach us to overcome evil with good (Rom 12:21). The phrases of Joseph “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God” and “you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good” indicated that Joseph not only did not take advantage of his brothers’ vulnerable situation, but that he also acknowledged their evil deeds toward him and that he had forgiven their sins. Joseph overcame the brothers’ evil with good—by letting the brothers continue dwelling in the best land of Egypt—providing for their needs and the needs of their little ones (Gen 50:21). Likewise, the apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans encouraged the reader to “not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:21). In other words, the New Testament teaches us to expand beyond the forbiddance of vengeance. Instead of simply holding ourselves back from vengeance, we ought to “heap coals of fire on [our enemy’s] head” by overcoming evil with good—giving the “enemy” a helping hand in his vulnerable state (Rom 12:20).
There was a similarity and a difference between Joseph’s usage and Jacob’s usage of the phrase “am I in the place of God.” While Jacob used the mentioned phrase out of his aroused anger toward Rachel (Gen 30:2), Joseph used the phrase out of great sadness toward his brothers (Gen 50:17-19). But both Jacob and Joseph, through the mentioned phrase, acknowledged that the request made to them was beyond human capability. In Jacob’s example, he explained to Rachel that he was not in the place of God to open or to withhold “the fruit of the womb” (Gen 30:2) and in Joseph’s example, he described to his brothers that he was not in the place of God to avenge and recompense their past wrongdoings against him (Gen 50:15-20).
Contrast the phrase “you will be like God” in Gen 3:4-6 with “am I in the place of God” in Gen 50:19. What can we learn about pride from the story of Adam-Eve and the story of Joseph? See also Gen 2:15-17; Isa 29:16, 45:9, 64:8;
1 Cor 5:2-6, 8 and 1 Jn 2:16.Hide Answer
The two phrases “you will be like God” in Gen 3:4-6 and “am I in the place of God” in Gen 50:19 were a great contrast. While the former indicates the persuasion to be in the place of God, the latter is a rhetorical question, implicitly emphasizing that one was not in the place of God. Although Joseph, at that moment, had the option to take advantage in exercising his vengeance toward his brothers’ evil deeds, he refused and clearly understood that vengeance and recompense belonged to the Lord, not mankind (Gen 50:15-20). On the other hand, when Eve was tempted by the serpent to be like God, not only did she fall into it but she also persuaded her husband, Adam, to be in the place of God—directly disobeying and rebelling against God’s loving command (Gen 2:15-17).
From the contrast above, we can learn a lesson about pride. The prophet Isaiah in his book explained that we, mankind, “are the clay” and the Lord our Father is the “potter” and thus, “we are the work of [His] hand” (Isa 64:8). Just like Adam and Eve who pursued to be “like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:2-7) and at the end strived with God in the garden of Eden (Gen 3:9-13), the consequence of one’s arrogance and self-glorification is a strife with one’s Maker. According to the prophet Isaiah, the arrogant one was like the clay which caused “things to turned around” and said to his Maker, “What are you making…He did not make me…He has no understanding” (Isa 29:16, 45:9). The writer of the letter of
1st John reminded the reader that “the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world” ( 1 Jn 2:16). As God’s creation, we ought to acknowledge our status that we belong to the Father and not to the world. Hence, the apostle Paul encouraged the Corinthians in his letter that “he who glories, let him glory in the Lord” and “no flesh should glory in His presence” ( 1 Cor 1:29, 31). Since we are His creation, instead of taking pride and glory for ourselves we ought to give all glory to our Lord. Joseph understood that he was but a creation of God and therefore, he refused neither to take advantage of his power nor be in the place of God to exercise vengeance.
How did the phrase “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” in Gen 50:20 perfectly fit into the example of Balak and Balaam in the book of Numbers 23? See Num 22:2-6, 35, 23:7-10, 18-24 and 24:3-9.Hide Answer
The phrase “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” in Gen 50:20 fits perfectly into the example of Balak and Balaam in the book of Numbers 23. In the book of Genesis 50:20, Joseph summarized to his brothers that the brothers had “meant evil against [him]” when they sold him to the Midianites (Gen 37:28) and lied to his father Jacob about his whereabout for all these years (Gen 37:31-35). But “God meant it for good,” Joseph continued, for through the brothers’ “evil” of discarding Joseph out of their lives and the life of Jacob, Joseph was made governor over all the land of Egypt (Gen 41:41) to provide for the brothers and his father’s household (Gen 45:7) and to save the lives of many people (Gen 50:20).
Similarly, the book of Numbers recorded an example of Balak, the king of the Moabites, who meant evil against the children of Israel through Balaam, but was intervened by God who turned the curse into blessings. The writer of the book of Numbers mentioned that Balak requested Balaam the son of Beor to curse the children of Israel into defeating and driving them “out of the land” (Num 22:2-6). But Balaam, being told by the Angel of the Lord to speak only the word that He spoke to him (Num 22:35), prophesied about the children of Israel three times (Num 23:7-10, 18-24, 24:3-9). In his oracle, according to the book of Numbers, Balaam had “received a command [from God] to bless” the children of Israel and he could not reverse it (Num 23:20). Even though Balak told him to curse the children of Israel through his oracle, the Lord used Balaam’s oracle to bless Israel. What Balak had harmfully schemed against the Israelites, God used it for the goodness of Israel.
From the phrase “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” we can learn a lesson about men’s plan versus God’s will. The writer of the book of Proverbs mentioned that “a man’s heart plans his way” and “there are many plans in a man’s heart.” But at the end, “a man’s steps are of the Lord” and “the Lord’s counsel…will stand” (Prov 16:9, 19:21, 20:24). In the book of Psalms, the Psalmist also expanded that one of the plans of man’s heart was an “intended evil against [God’s people]” (Psa 21:11). And yet, the Psalmist highlighted that “the LORD [would] preserve [us] from all evil” (Psa 121:7). In other words, though one may intend and scheme evil things against the people of God; at the end, God’s will stands against his evil scheme and the Lord is able to turn evil into good for the sake of His people.
Joseph’s “bad-turned-good” life experience for the saving of the lives of many people was similar to that of the Lord Jesus Christ.
When the brothers of Joseph “meant evil against [him]” by selling Joseph to the Midianites (Gen 37:28), God turned it “for good, in order…to save many people alive” (Gen 50:20) by positioning Joseph to be the governor of Egypt and therefore, enabling him to provide food for all of the land of Egypt and for his father’s family from the severe famine and saving the lives of many people.
Likewise, during His life, the Lord Jesus foretold three times about the evil which would befall Him (Mt 16:21, 17:22-23, 20:17-19). The writer of the gospel of Matthew explained that the Lord must “suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day” (Mt 16:21). But the Lord emphasized that the mentioned evil against Him was “of the things of God” (Mt 16:23). And the apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans described further that the Lord Jesus’ death from the killing was for the purpose of justifying sinners. The apostle highlighted that through the Lord Jesus’ blood, “we were reconciled to God” and “[would] be saved from wrath” (Rom 5:8-10). Thus, the evil—the sufferings and the death from the killing—which befell the Lord Jesus was for the purpose of saving many lives—reconciling and justifying sinners that they can be saved from God’s judgment.
There was a great contrast of a family relationship between Joseph’s filial love to provide for his father’s household with Cain’s refusal to be his brother’s keeper. While Joseph was far away from his family, he continued to think about the well-being of his father and his younger brother (Gen 42:20, 43:27-30, 45:3). Not only did Joseph provide for his father’s and brothers’ households during the famine (Gen 45:9-11), but he also promised the brothers to continue providing for them and their little ones after the death of Jacob his father (Gen 50:21). The actions of Joseph proved his unconditional love toward his families.
On the other hand, Cain was angry with his God-fearing brother, Abel. Upon knowing that the Lord “respected Abel and his offering,” Cain “rose up against Abel his brother and killed him” (Gen 4:4-8). When the Lord questioned Cain, he indifferently answered, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9). Such a disrespectful answer not only revealed Cain’s lie and hatred toward his brother but it also showed his self-centeredness in fulfilling the sinful desire of his anger. Cain neither cared for his brother nor his brother’s well-being. He only cared to satisfy his rage.
Therefore, while Joseph rewarded the evil and the transgression of his brothers with goodness by refusing to pursue his vengeance and continually providing for them and their little ones; Cain recompensed his God-fearing brother with evil and sinned by being angry at him whose offering was respected by God and by rising up against him and killing him.
Describe the life of Joseph’s old age in full.Hide Answer
In his old age, Joseph led his life in full. Not only did Joseph dwell in Egypt together with his “father’s household” but he was also able to live for “one hundred and ten years” (Gen 50:22). In addition, Joseph was able to see “Ephraim’s children to the third generation” and was able to bring up on his knees “the children of Machir, the son of Manasseh” (Gen 50:23).
The last words of the forefathers of Joseph were as follows: First, in his last words, Abraham emphasized to the oldest servant of his house about the promised land of God and warned him twice not to take Isaac back to land from which he came (Gen 24:6, 8). Second, in his last words to Jacob, Isaac blessed him with the blessing of the land of inheritance from God, saying, “May God Almighty bless you, and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may be an assembly of peoples; and give you the blessing of Abraham, to you and your descendants with you, that you may inherit the land in which you are a stranger, which God gave to Abraham” (Gen 28:3-4). Third, though Jacob had comfortably dwelled in the best land of Egypt, his last words to Joseph was a command not to “bury [him] in Egypt, but let [him] lie with [his] fathers…in their burial place (Gen 47:29-30),” in the land of Canaan—the promised land of God.
Each of their last words reflected the progression of their faith toward God’s promise. In Abraham’s example, Abraham emphasized the forbiddance of turning back to land from which he came. Then in Isaac’s example, Isaac sent off his son with the message of faith that he was to look forward to “inherit the land in which [he was] a stranger.” Finally, in Jacob’s example, Jacob set an example to his descendants who were in Egypt by insisting to be buried in the Promised Land of God.
The last words of the forefathers of Joseph in question 11a underlined their continual faith and hope toward the promised land of God. They tremendously impacted Joseph’s last words and became the foundation of his decision not to be buried in the land of Egypt. The writer of the book of Genesis wrote that, on his deathbed, not only did Joseph revisited the last words of his forefathers but he also summarized them and passed on the faith of those last words to the children of Israel, saying, “God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob…you shall carry up my bones from here” (Gen 50:24-25).
According to the writer of the book of Hebrews, the words of Joseph “when he was dying” were the words of faith. First, Joseph “made mention of the departure of the children of Israel” (Heb 11:22). Although the children of Israel were dwelling in the land of Egypt at that time under the command of Pharaoh (Gen 47:5-11), on his deathbed, Joseph made mention of the children of Israel’s departure from Egypt and by faith he promised them that God Himself would bring them out of Egypt one day to the “land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob” (Gen 50:24). Second, Joseph “gave instructions concerning his bones” that the children of Israel should “carry up [his] bones from [Egypt]” (Heb 11:22; Gen 50:25). Similar to the example of Abraham who “[desired] a better…a heavenly country” (Heb 11:16) and to the example of Moses who “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter” (Heb 11:24), Joseph—the descendant of Abraham and the ancestor of Moses and a governor over all the land of Egypt who had all the rights and privileges to be entombed in Egypt—instead chose his remains to be carried and be buried in the promised land of God.