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Joseph Forgave His Brothers

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Today we are learning our final lesson on the life of Joseph.
We’ve learned about:
-Joseph interpreting Pharaoh’s two dreams
-Pharaoh putting Joseph in charge of all Egypt during the famine
-Joseph’s brothers coming to Egypt to get food
And today, we will see how Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers and forgives them, bringing his family back together once again.

The Brothers Return to Egypt

We left off last week with Joseph’s brothers going home and bringing food back with them as well as their money.
Genesis 43:2–9 (CSB)
2 When they had used up the grain they had brought back from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go back and buy us a little food.”
3 But Judah said to him, “The man specifically warned us, ‘You will not see me again unless your brother is with you.’
4 If you will send our brother with us, we will go down and buy food for you.
5 But if you will not send him, we will not go, for the man said to us, ‘You will not see me again unless your brother is with you.’ ”
6 “Why have you caused me so much trouble?” Israel asked. “Why did you tell the man that you had another brother?”
7 They answered, “The man kept asking about us and our family: ‘Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother?’ And we answered him accordingly. How could we know that he would say, ‘Bring your brother here’?”
8 Then Judah said to his father Israel, “Send the boy with me. We will be on our way so that we may live and not die—neither we, nor you, nor our dependents.
9 I will be responsible for him. You can hold me personally accountable! If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, I will be guilty before you forever.
So Jacob (Israel), their father, told them to bring gifts to Joseph - balsam, honey, aromatic gum and resin, pistachios, and almonds, twice as much silver that they originally came with, and not only that, but Benjamin.
They arrived back in Egypt and stood before Joseph. Once Joseph saw Benjamin, the youngest brother with them, he told his servant to slaughter an animal and prepare food for them to eat as Joseph would be hosting his brothers.
The brothers were afraid when they arrived at Joseph’s house. I can only imagine why! The brothers then cleaned up and got ready for the meal. Once Joseph arrived, they gave Joseph all the gifts they brought with them and bowed before him. (Does anyone remember what happened in Joseph’s two dreams?)
Joseph then asked how their dad (his dad) was doing, to which they responded that he is well and alive. Then Joseph asked if the Benjamin was their (also his) youngest brother they told him about.
Listen to what happens next:
Genesis 43:30–31 (CSB)
30 Joseph hurried out because he was overcome with emotion for his brother, and he was about to weep. He went into an inner room and wept there.
31 Then he washed his face and came out. Regaining his composure, he said, “Serve the meal.”
Joseph had just one more test for his brothers. He had one of his stewards (manager) fill their bags again with as much food as they could carry, and put the silver money back on top like before. This time, the steward put Joseph’s silver cup at the top of Benjamin the youngest brother’s bag.
As they were leaving the next morning, Joseph told his steward to go and accuse them of stealing Joseph’s cup.
Genesis 44:7–13 (NLT)
7 “What are you talking about?” the brothers responded. “We are your servants and would never do such a thing!
8 Didn’t we return the money we found in our sacks? We brought it back all the way from the land of Canaan. Why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house?
9 If you find his cup with any one of us, let that man die. And all the rest of us, my lord, will be your slaves.”
10 “That’s fair,” the man replied. “But only the one who stole the cup will be my slave. The rest of you may go free.”
11 They all quickly took their sacks from the backs of their donkeys and opened them.
12 The palace manager searched the brothers’ sacks, from the oldest to the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack!
13 When the brothers saw this, they tore their clothing in despair. Then they loaded their donkeys again and returned to the city.
Jospeh talked more with his brothers after the cup was found in Benjamin’s bag, and Judah, one of the brothers pleaded with Joseph and offered to stay as a slave so that Benjamin could go home to be with his father again. Jacob loved Benjamin so much that the brothers knew if Benjamin were to not return home, Jacob would die!

Joseph Reveals Himself

Let’s read the moment where Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers:
Genesis 45:1–15 (CSB)
1 Joseph could no longer keep his composure in front of all his attendants, so he called out, “Send everyone away from me!” No one was with him when he revealed his identity to his brothers.
2 But he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and also Pharaoh’s household heard it.
3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But they could not answer him because they were terrified in his presence.
4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please, come near me,” and they came near. “I am Joseph, your brother,” he said, “the one you sold into Egypt.
5 And now don’t be grieved or angry with yourselves for selling me here, because God sent me ahead of you to preserve life.
6 For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there will be five more years without plowing or harvesting.
7 God sent me ahead of you to establish you as a remnant within the land and to keep you alive by a great deliverance.
8 Therefore it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household, and ruler over all the land of Egypt.
9 “Return quickly to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: “God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me without delay.
10 You can settle in the land of Goshen and be near me—you, your children, and your grandchildren, your flocks, your herds, and all you have.
11 There I will sustain you, for there will be five more years of famine. Otherwise, you, your household, and everything you have will become destitute.” ’
12 Look! Your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin can see that I’m the one speaking to you.
13 Tell my father about all my glory in Egypt and about all you have seen. And bring my father here quickly.”
14 Then Joseph threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin wept on his shoulder.
15 Joseph kissed each of his brothers as he wept, and afterward his brothers talked with him.
Eventually, Jacob and all of his flock and all that he owns arrived to Egypt to live. Jacob was old, 130 years old at the time he arrived. He lived in Egypt for 17 years and then died. The brothers became worried: “Now that dad has died, will Joseph hurt and harm us? Will he stop treating us kindly and repay us for all the evil we’ve done?”
Genesis 50:19–21 (CSB)
19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God?
20 You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people.
21 Therefore don’t be afraid. I will take care of you and your children.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

Bottom Line

What does Joseph’s reaction look like? Is it revenge? No, it’s love, and it’s forgiveness. Even after all that had happened to Joseph - being sold into slavery by his own brothers, being accused of doing something wrong when he didn’t do it, getting thrown into prison, and so much more - Joseph loved his brothers.
Our bottom line is this: We can honor God by loving and forgiving others.

Christ Connection

Just as Joseph loved and forgave his brothers, who has shown us love and forgiveness? Jesus, that’s right! He died for sinners just like you and me. If we are his followers, he wants us to walk as He walked and act the way He acted - by showing the same love and forgiveness He has shown us to those around us.
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