Focusing on the tension between Judah’s plea and the Egyptian governor’s command, the lesson now concentrates on how Joseph finally revealed his identity to his brothers and how the Pharaoh accepted and invited Joseph’s family to live in Egypt. Through the passage, we can learn lessons of forgiveness, acceptance and reliance on God’s comfort.
Did You Know...?
- “They were dismayed” (45:3): In Greek-Septuagint, the phrase can be literally translated as “they were shakened” or “they were thrown into confusion.” In addition, the verb “dismayed” can literally be translated into several meanings, such as: “trembling” in the context of war (Ex 15:15), “panicked” by an impending doom or disaster (Judg 20:41), “troubled” after seeing a spirit ascending out of the earth (
1 Sam 28:21), “terrified” by the wrath of God (Ps 90:7).
- “Whom you sold into Egypt” (45:4): The phrase can be translated literally in Greek-Septuagint as “whom you made an exchange for yourselves into Egypt.”
- “To preserve a posterity” (45:7): In Greek-Septuagint, the phrase can be literally translated as “to rear” or “to bring up from childhood a large legacy.”
- Sent (45:7): The term “sent” in Hebrew can literally be translated in several meanings, such as: Someone dispatching a person on a mission (Gen 28:5, 32:3; Ex 9:27; Num 13:17, 22:5; Josh 7:2; Judg 9:31;
1 Sam 19:11), the Lord putting words in the mouth of His prophet (Jer 1:9), or the Spirit of the Lord stretched His Hand and lifted His prophet to bring him into visions of God (Ezek 8:3).
- A posterity (45:7) in Hebrew can literally be translated in several meanings. First, a posterity as a descendant or a legacy of a family name (
2 Sam 14:7; Mic 4:7). Second, a posterity as a survivor of war or calamity ( 2 Chr 36:20; Ezr 9:14; Jer 11:23). Third, a posterity as a remainder or a remnant of what is left (Jer 8:3, 44:7, 50:26).
- A great deliverance (45:7): The word “deliverance” in Hebrew can be literally translated as “remnant” or “survivor”—the one who has escaped the attack of war, the captivity or the calamity (Gen 32:8; Neh 1:2; Dan 11:42; Joel 2:3). In addition, the expression “deliverance” can be used as a reference to the help or deliverance from the wrath of God (
2 Chr 12:7) or the punishment of God (Ezra 9:13).
- Father (45:8): The word “father” in Hebrew can be translated literally into several references. First, it is used as a title “priest” (Judg 17:10, 18:19). Second, it is used as “father” figure to chasten the son who commits iniquity (
2 Sam 7:14; 1 Chr 17:13) and to pity the children who fear Him (Ps 103:13). Third, it is used as a reference to God the creator (Mal 1:6, 2:10).
- Ruler (45:8): In Hebrew, this word root is similarly used in Gen 37:8 when the brothers mocked Joseph’s dream as a reference to his ruling over them; and in Gen 45:8 when Joseph indeed became the ruler of Egypt.
- “The land of Goshen” (45:10): In Greek-Septuagint, the phrase is literally translated as “the land of Gesem of Arabia.” The location of the region of Goshen was in the eastern Delta area of Wadi Tumilat. The mentioned phrase is interchangeable with “the land of Rameses” (Gen 47:11). [ref]
- “He fell on his neck” (45:14): The mentioned emotional expression is repeated extensively in the patriarchs throughout the book of Genesis (Gen 33:4, 45:14, 46:29).
- “The best of the land of Egypt” (45:18): The phrase can be translated literally in Greek-Septuagint as “the relatively high standard of qualities of the land of Egypt.” According to historical reference, the Nile Delta, including the region of Goshen, was the center of cattle breeding. [ref]
- “The fat of the land” (45:18): In Greek-Septuagint, the phrase can literally be translated as “the marrows” or “the inmost parts of the land.” The word “fat” in Hebrew, can also be literally translated as “the best” product, i.e. of wine or wheat (Num 18:12), “the very finest,” i.e. of wheat (Deut 32:14) or “the finest,” i.e. of wheat (Ps 81:16).
- “Do not be concerned about your goods” (45:20): The expression can be literally translated in Greek-Septuagint as “you may not save” or “you may not spare for yourselves the things of yours.”
- “According to the command of Pharaoh” (45:21): In Hebrew, the phrase can literally be translated as “according to the mouth of Pharaoh” or in Greek-Septuagint, “according to the things which have been said by Pharaoh.”
- Silver (4:22) can be literally translated as “shekel” in Hebrew and as “gold-pieces” in Greek-Septuagint.
- “Five changes of garments” (45:22): In Greek-Septuagint, the word “changes” can be literally translated as “extraordinary” or “exceptional sets of clothing.” Moreover, the mentioned word in Hebrew is specifically used for a gift of clothing or a token of honor (Judg 14:12, 13;
2 Kgs 5:5).
- “Do not become troubled” (45:24): The expression in Hebrew can be literally translated as “do not quarrel,” and in Greek-Septuagint as “do not be angry among yourselves.”
- “Jacob’s heart stood still” (45:26): The phrase can be literally translated as “the thought was out of Jacob’s senses.”
- “The spirit of Jacob…revived” (45:27): In Hebrew, the expression can be literally translated as “the spirit of Jacob is quickened from discouragement.”
- “It is enough” (45:28): The expression in Greek-Septuagint can be translated literally as “It is a big deal” or “it is an extraordinary thing to me.”
Compare the difference on how the writer of the book of Genesis addressed the brothers between Gen 42-44 with Gen 45. What was the purpose of such a differentiation?Hide Answer
The writer of the book of Genesis addressed the brothers differently between Gen 42-44 with Gen 45. In Gen 42-44, the writer addressed the brothers as “the men” (Gen 43:15, 18, 24, 44:1, 3, 4) or as “them” (Gen 42:12, 14, 18, 25, 43:27, 34, 44:6, 15), distancing the brothers from Joseph and concealing any family relation between the Egyptian governor and the Canaanite visitors. But starting from Gen 45 onward, the writer addressed the brothers as “his brothers” (Gen 45:3, 4), “Joseph’s brothers” (45:16) and “your brothers” (45:17).
The main focus of Joseph’s speech in Gen 45:3-13 was to know the well-being of his father, Jacob, and to see his father in person. In the speech, there are four instances where Joseph mentioned about his father: Joseph asked his brothers whether his father was still alive in Gen 45:3, Joseph commanded his brothers to “hurry and go up to my father” in Gen 45:9, Joseph commanded his brothers to “tell [his] father of all [Joseph’s] glory in Egypt” and to “bring [his] father down here” in Gen 45:13.
The main focus of Joseph’s speech in Gen 45 was consistent with his other speech in Gen 43. The writer of the book of Genesis narrated how Joseph sincerely asked the well-being of his father, Jacob, with two questions: “Is your father well” and “is he still alive” (Gen 43:27).
How did Joseph prove his identity: To his brothers;
To his father;Hide Answer
To prove to his father about his identity, Joseph requested his brothers and Benjamin to be witnesses. The eyes of the brothers and the eyes of Benjamin had witnessed Joseph physically and all of Joseph’s glory in Egypt. In addition, they had also directly heard the words of Joseph’s commands from Joseph’s mouth (Gen 45:12-13).
Record how many times did Joseph weep from Gen 42 to Gen 45?Hide Answer
From Gen 43 to 45, Jacob wept three times. First, the book of Genesis revealed that after Joseph heard Ruben remind his brothers about their past sin, Joseph “turned himself away from them and wept” (Gen 42:22-24). Second, the book of Genesis mentioned that after Joseph saw his brother Benjamin, “his heart yearned for his brother” and he “went into his chamber and wept there” (Gen 43:29-30). Third, the book of Genesis recorded that Joseph “wept aloud” while he “made himself known to his brothers” (Gen 45:1-2).
Why did Joseph weep aloud in Gen 45?Hide Answer
Joseph wept aloud in Gen 45 for several reasons. First, Joseph’s weeping aloud was caused by the thought of his suffering father. Initially, Joseph planned to bring Benjamin to Egypt for himself through his scheme (Gen 44:1-2, 17). But after hearing Judah’s explanation on how their father’s life was “bound up” in Benjamin’s life and their father “would die” without Benjamin’s presence (Gen 44:30-31), Joseph “could not restrain himself” and he “wept aloud” (Gen 45:1-2).
Second, Joseph’s weeping aloud was caused by the exhibition of remorse from his brothers. When Joseph commanded them to “go up in peace to [their] father”and to leave Benjamin behind in Egypt, he expected them to take the offer and to leave (Gen 44:17). But to Joseph’s surprise, not only did the brothers show their solidarity toward each other but they were also willing to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the unity between Benjamin and his father (Gen 44:18-34). The brothers’ change of heart and their determination to keep Benjamin for their father touched Joseph’s heart and caused him to weep aloud.
From Gen 43, what evidences support the forgiveness of Joseph to the brothers?Hide Answer
The forgiveness of Joseph toward his brothers was evidenced by Joseph’s words of forgiveness in Gen 45:5-11. Though Joseph reminded the brothers that it was them who had sold their own brother into Egypt (Gen 45:4), he told them not to be grieved nor angry with themselves because of it (Gen 45:5). Moreover, Joseph proved his forgiveness toward his brothers through his action. The book of Genesis 45:11 mentioned how Joseph promised his brothers that he would provide for them and for their household, despite of their past deeds against Joseph.
What do you usually do when someone close to you hurts you?
What can we learn about not holding a grudge from Joseph’s example toward his brothers?Hide Answer
From the example of Joseph’s situation with his brothers, we can learn a lesson about not holding a grudge. Though Joseph remembered how the brothers had sold him into Egypt, Joseph forgave them and promised to provide for them and their household (Gen 45:4, 11). Although the brothers were afraid of Joseph after the death of their father in Gen 50, Joseph reassured them that his forgiveness toward them was real and sincere (Gen 50:19-21).
Likewise, if we say we forgive someone yet we are still holding a grudge against him, our forgiveness is not real or sincere. The writer of the gospel of Matthew warns us about holding a grudge, “For if [we] forgive men their trespasses, [our] heavenly Father will also forgive [us]. But if [we] do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will [our] Father forgive [our] trespasses” (Mt 6:14-15). Therefore, one who forgives but still holds a grudge not only reflects his insincere forgiveness but will also bring the judgment of God upon himself.
What were the brothers’ reactions toward Joseph’s revelation of identity?Hide Answer
When Joseph revealed his identity, the brothers were “dismayed in [Joseph’s] presence”and they “could not answer him” (Gen 45:3). Moreover, the brothers were seen to be “grieved or angry with [themselves] because [they] sold [Joseph]” (Gen 45:5). Even after their father died, their fear toward Joseph’s revenge resurfaced (Gen 50:17-19).
How was Joseph’s phrase “do not be grieved or angry with yourselves” serve as a comfort for the brothers? “Do not be grieved”;Hide Answer
Joseph’s phrase “do not be grieved” served as a comfort for the brothers. When Joseph noticed that the brothers “could not answer him” and they “were dismayed in his presence,” he knew that they were troubled and gave them the words of comfort. Previously, the brothers were grieved because they saw Jacob, their father, were still bereaved for Joseph (gen 42:36) and they could not comfort him (Gen 37:35). Because of the brothers’ deed in selling Joseph to Egypt, for 21 years—starting from Joseph’s 17th year in Canaan (Gen 37:2) to Joseph’s 38th year in Egypt (Gen 41:46-53)—Jacob mourned for Joseph. But now, after revealing his identity to the brothers, Joseph comforted them that they would not need to grieve anymore. Soon, their bereaved father, Jacob, would see Joseph face to face (Gen 45:9) and would rejoice again.
“Do not be angry with yourselves”;Hide Answer
In addition, Joseph’s phrase “do not be angry with yourselves” acted as a relief for the brothers and it gave them a chance to make peace with themselves. The revelation of Joseph’s identity meant the pain of the brothers’ past sins—the sin of lying against Jacob, their father, and the sin against Joseph, their younger brother—resurfaced again. The brothers were dismayed and could not answer Joseph because they were troubled by their evil deeds. According to Gen 42:21, not only were the brothers haunted by their guilt concerning Joseph but they also could not make peace with themselves for not hearing the plea of Joseph’s anguished soul. The forgiveness of Joseph not only ended the life-long guilt of the brothers but also reassured the brothers to make peace with themselves.
What do you usually do when you have hurt someone close to you?
In his speech to the brothers, how many times did Joseph mention God as the One who controlled his life-journey?Hide Answer
In his speech to the brothers, Joseph emphasized five times that God was the One who controlled his life-journey. First, Joseph stressed to the brothers that it was God who “sent [him] before [them] to preserve life” (Gen 45:5). Second, Joseph highlighted that God sent him “to preserve a posterity for [them] in the earth” (Gen 45:7). Third, Joseph underlined to the brothers again that “it was not [them] who sent [him] here, but God” (Gen 45:8). Fourth, Joseph told them that God “[had] made [him] a father to Pharaoh” (Gen 45:8). Fifth, Joseph declared and commanded the brothers that God “[had] made [him] lord of all Egypt” and the brothers were to “come down to [him]” and not to “tarry” (Gen 45:9).
What lesson can we learn from Joseph’s statement ”it was not you who sent me here, but God”? See also Jer 29:11.Hide Answer
From Joseph’s statement “it was not you who sent me here, but God,” we can learn the lesson about God’s will versus human will. In the final chapter of the book of Genesis, Joseph emphasized his point that though the brothers “meant evil against [Joseph], God meant it for good” (Gen 50:20). In other words, men can scheme evil intention against us but the Lord is able to alter it according to His good will for us. Furthermore, the prophet Jeremiah gives us assurance of the goodness of God’s will upon our life. The prophet narrates how God knows the “thoughts of peace and not of evil” toward us in order “to give [us] a future and a hope” (Jer 29:11). The reminder from the prophet Jeremiah also teaches us about trusting God’s good will in our life. Although we may experience certain evil or calamity, the Lord will arrange for us “thoughts of peace” to give us “a future and a hope” to go through the evil or suffering of life.
What were God’s purposes of sending Joseph to Egypt?
Share an experience on how you can acknowledge the purpose of God in your family, in your workplace and in your church.
What words of comfort and promise did Joseph give his brothers when he sent them off?Hide Answer
When sending off the brothers, Joseph gave them words of comfort and promise. Joseph told the brothers to bring their father, Jacob, to stay with Joseph together in the abundance of Egypt (Gen 45:9). Moreover, Joseph comforted the brothers by giving them the land of Goshen to dwell in and that they and their children would be near to Joseph (Gen 45:10). Lastly, Joseph promised the brothers that he would provide for them and their household (Gen 45:11).
How did Joseph support the testimony to his father, Jacob, that he was still alive?Hide Answer
To support the testimony to his father, Jacob, that Joseph was still alive, he used several methods. First, Joseph brought the eye-witnesses of his ten brothers and of his brother, Benjamin, who had witnessed Joseph himself and “all [Joseph’s] glory in Egypt” (Gen 45:12-13). Second, Joseph used his mouth which spoke directly to the brothers without any interpreter (Gen 45:1-3), i.e. his own identity, as a Hebrew as a witness of his bloodline in the family of Jacob; and Joseph’s mouth which spoke the secret of the brothers’ past sin (Gen 45:4) as a incriminating testimony against the brothers’ lie and hidden sin against Joseph. Third, Joseph sent the brothers with the carts of Egypt from Pharaoh to Jacob (Gen 45:19). Fourth, Joseph gave provisions to the brothers for their journey and he gave changes of garments to the ten brothers and “three hundred pieces of silver and five changes of garments” to Benjamin (Gen 45:21-22). Fifth, Joseph sent to his father gifts: “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” (Gen 45:23). All of these methods were used by Joseph to prove to his father that he was still alive.
What were the glory of Joseph in Egypt, which the brothers witnessed?
How did the plan of God to send Joseph to Egypt bring unity in Jacob’s family? Between the ten brothers and Joseph;Hide Answer
God’s plan in sending off Joseph to Egypt eventually brought unity to Jacob’s family. First, it brought unity between Joseph and his ten brothers. Previously, according to the book of Genesis, the brothers hated Joseph and “could not speak peaceably to him” (Gen 37:4). The brothers’ hearts were filled with envy (Gen 37:11) and hatred that they were willing to kill Joseph (Gen 37:20). After Joseph was able to forgive them, the “brothers talked with him” (Gen 45:15) and in the death of their father, Jacob, the brothers pleaded to Joseph to forgive their past trespass (Gen 50:17). At the end, Joseph reassured the brothers not to be afraid and he “comforted them and spoke kindly to them” (Gen 50:21). Thus, God’s plan dissolved the enmity between the brothers and Joseph and brought them together in unity.
Between the brothers and Jacob;Hide Answer
God’s plan for Joseph in Egypt also brought unity between the brothers and Jacob . Earlier, Jacob showed favoritism by loving “Joseph more than all his children” and making him “a tunic of many colors” (Gen 37:3). Even the brothers could see how their father discriminated against them (Gen 37:4). Because of their hatred toward Joseph, the brothers were willing to lie to their father for years (Gen 37:31-32). But the forgiveness of Joseph touched the brothers’ heart. Now, the brothers decided to share with their father, Jacob, about Joseph’s whereabout (Gen 45:25-27). Therefore, God’s plan for Joseph had ended years of lies and distrust between Jacob and the brothers.
Between Joseph and Jacob;Hide Answer
In addition, God’s plan for Joseph brought unity between Joseph and his father, Jacob. Initially, the selling of Joseph to Egypt caused both of them, Joseph and Jacob, to be separated from each other (Gen 37:34-36). On one hand, the separation had caused Jacob to mourn for Joseph continually (Gen 37:34-35) and caused Jacob’s heart to grow numb and his spirit to be deadened (Gen 45:26-27). On the other hand, the separation had caused Joseph to worry about his father’s well-being and health (Gen 43:27, 45:3). But God’s plan for Joseph in Egypt finally made Joseph able to be reunited with his father, Jacob. The invitation of Joseph not only caused Jacob’s spirit to be revived (Gen 45:27) but it also made him able to live near his long-lost son (Gen 45:9) together with the whole family of Jacob and the brothers (Gen 45:10-11). At the end, God’s plan for Joseph in Egypt brought joy and happiness to Jacob in his old age.
How did the plan of God to send Joseph to Egypt bring the Egyptians and the clans of Abraham closer?Hide Answer
The plan of God to send Joseph to Egypt had brought the Egyptians and the clans of Abraham closer. Previously, during the times of Abraham, when God plagued “Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife,”Pharaoh commanded his men and sent Abram and his wife and all that he had away from Egypt (Gen 12:20). But during the times of Joseph, after Egypt was delivered from a great famine through Joseph, the man in whom was the Spirit of God (Gen 41:38), Pharaoh extended his gratitude to Joseph by welcoming his father, his brothers, and all their families for a permanent settlement in the best land of Egypt (Gen 45:18-20). Through the plan of God, not only was the relationship between the Egyptians and the clans of Abraham mended but the nation Egypt could also be used as God’s tool of service to preserve the people of the children of Israel.
Share an experience of how God’s plan in your life has an effect to resolve a conflict in your family or in your workplace or within your church populace.
How did Pharaoh receive the news concerning Joseph’s family? The reaction of Pharaoh;
The words of Pharaoh to Joseph;Hide Answer
To Joseph’s brothers, Pharaoh welcomed them and said, “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” (Gen 45:17-18). Pharaoh extended his invitation of staying in Egypt to Joseph’s father and the father’s households.
The command of Pharaoh to Joseph;Hide Answer
In receiving the news concerning Joseph’s brothers, Pharaoh also gave a royal command to Joseph to “take carts out of the land of Egypt for [the brothers’] little ones and [the brothers’] wives” (Gen 45:19). The invitation of Pharaoh for a permanent settlement for the Jacobites was reinforced by his formal decree.
In Gen 45:24, why would Joseph advise his brothers not to “become troubled along the way” back to bring their father?Hide Answer
According to the book of Genesis 45:24, Joseph advised the brothers not to become troubled along their way back to get their father. The advice was supported by several reasons. In the Greek-Septuagint, the expression “become troubled” can be literally translated as “do not be angry.” In delivering the news of Joseph’s survival in Egypt to their father (Gen 45:25-26), not only did the brothers have to remind themselves of their past guilt (Gen 42:21), but the brothers also had to confess the past event of their evil deeds against Joseph—the one which they had kept secret for years from their father. Joseph knew the dilemma of the brothers and thus, he advised them not to be angry among themselves because of the past sins.
In addition, the phrase “become troubled” can be translated literally as “do not quarrel.” Previously the brothers had quarreled among themselves in regards of their past sins. The writer of the book of Genesis 42:22 narrated how Reuben blamed the rest of the brothers for the “sin against [Joseph].” Reuben held them responsible for the blood which was now required of them (Gen 42:22). Knowing how the brothers had quarreled in front of him previously, Joseph reminded them not to engage in further recrimination against each other. Since God could turn evil intention into good result (Gen 50:20), Joseph recommended them not to quarrel anymore among each other on their past sins.
Why did Jacob’s heart “stand still” after hearing the news that Joseph was still alive?Hide Answer
After the brothers excitedly told Jacob, their father, that Joseph was still alive and that he had become “governor over all the land of Egypt,” Jacob’s heart stood still (Gen 45:26). Instead of being filled with excitement at the news of his long-lost son, Jacob remained to be emotionless. Jacob’s heart stood still despite the exciting news because Jacob had already mourned for Joseph’s death for “many days” and he had “refused to be comforted” (Gen 37:34-35). Jacob’s continual grief over Joseph (Gen 42:38, 43:14) overcame the exciting news that he had heard. Moreover, the writer of the book of Genesis stated that Jacob’s heart stood still because “he did not believe them” (Gen 45:26). Jacob heard the news of Joseph from the mouth of the brothers—the ones who had “hated [Joseph] and could not speak peaceably to him” (Gen 37:4) and of whom Jacob had received a bad report (Gen 37:2). Knowing of their notoriety, Jacob refused to believe the news regarding Joseph.
Observe the sudden change of name from Jacob to Israel in Gen 45:28. What was the writer’s purpose of changing the name?Hide Answer
The name change from Jacob to Israel in Gen 45:28 has a close connection with the revival of Jacob’s spirit. The writer of the book of Genesis purposely used the God-given name of Jacob, Israel (Gen 32:28), in Gen 45:28. The name change of Jacob was used to emphasize the revival of Jacob’s spirit after Jacob saw “the carts which Joseph had sent to carry him” (Gen 45:27). Furthermore, the name change was to highlight God’s given comfort and strength to Jacob in his old age so that he was able to see his long-lost son before he died (Gen 45:28).
How was the changing of name connected with God’s prophecy in Gen 46:3?Hide Answer
Apart from emphasizing God’s comfort and strength to Jacob, the name change has a connection to God’s prophecy in Gen 46:3. God spoke to Jacob through the visions of the night, “I will make of [Jacob] a great nation there.” Through God’s preservation in Gen 45, the whole clan of Jacob was able to be delivered from a great famine. In the settlement of Egypt, the Jacobites were able to be “fruitful and increased abundantly” (Ex 1:7). Thus, fulfilling the promise of God that Jacob would become a great nation, “the people of the children of Israel” (Ex 1:9) who “multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty” (Ex 1:7).