The famine is bad and everywhere. It is bad where Jacob lives with his eleven sons and their families. Word comes to Jacob that food can be purchased in Egypt, so he sends ten of his sons to go and bring back food.

He does not let Benjamin, his youngest son, go because he can’t bear the thought of losing him. Benjamin is Joseph’s full brother, the daughter of Rachel, Jacob’s favored wife.

In Egypt, Joseph recognizes his brothers, but they do not recognize him. Joseph takes out his father Jacob’s playbook and uses a little trickery to play mind games with his brothers.

Long story short, he makes them bring Benjamin back with them, and then makes it look like Benjamin has stolen from him and must become his prisoner. And that is where we’ll pick up the story…

Genesis 44:18-45:15

Then Judah stepped forward and said, “Please, my lord, let your servant say just one word to you. Please, do not be angry with me, even though you are as powerful as Pharaoh himself.

19 “My lord, previously you asked us, your servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 20 And we responded, ‘Yes, my lord, we have a father who is an old man, and his youngest son is a child of his old age. His full brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him very much.’

21 “And you said to us, ‘Bring him here so I can see him with my own eyes.’ 22 But we said to you, ‘My lord, the boy cannot leave his father, for his father would die.’ 23 But you told us, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes with you, you will never see my face again.’

24 “So we returned to your servant, our father, and told him what you had said. 25 Later, when he said, ‘Go back again and buy us more food,’ 26 we replied, ‘We can’t go unless you let our youngest brother go with us. We’ll never get to see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’

27 “Then my father said to us, ‘As you know, my wife had two sons, 28 and one of them went away and never returned. Doubtless he was torn to pieces by some wild animal. I have never seen him since. 29 Now if you take his brother away from me, and any harm comes to him, you will send this grieving, white-haired man to his grave.’

30 “And now, my lord, I cannot go back to my father without the boy. Our father’s life is bound up in the boy’s life. 31 If he sees that the boy is not with us, our father will die. We, your servants, will indeed be responsible for sending that grieving, white-haired man to his grave. 32 My lord, I guaranteed to my father that I would take care of the boy. I told him, ‘If I don’t bring him back to you, I will bear the blame forever.’

33 “So please, my lord, let me stay here as a slave instead of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. 34 For how can I return to my father if the boy is not with me? I couldn’t bear to see the anguish this would cause my father!”

Joseph Reveals His Identity

45:1 Joseph could stand it no longer. There were many people in the room, and he said to his attendants, “Out, all of you!” So he was alone with his brothers when he told them who he was. 2 Then he broke down and wept. He wept so loudly the Egyptians could hear him, and word of it quickly carried to Pharaoh’s palace.

3 “I am Joseph!” he said to his brothers. “Is my father still alive?” But his brothers were speechless! They were stunned to realize that Joseph was standing there in front of them. 4 “Please, come closer,” he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. 5 But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. 6 This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. 7 God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. 8 So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt.

9 “Now hurry back to my father and tell him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me master over all the land of Egypt. So come down to me immediately! 10 You can live in the region of Goshen, where you can be near me with all your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and everything you own. 11 I will take care of you there, for there are still five years of famine ahead of us. Otherwise you, your household, and all your animals will starve.’ ”

12 Then Joseph added, “Look! You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that I really am Joseph! 13 Go tell my father of my honored position here in Egypt. Describe for him everything you have seen, and then bring my father here quickly.” 14 Weeping with joy, he embraced Benjamin, and Benjamin did the same. 15 Then Joseph kissed each of his brothers and wept over them, and after that they began talking freely with him.

To Think About…

In some ways, Joseph’s story is similar to Jesus Christ’s. Joseph saves his family; Jesus saves the world. Here are a couple similarities:

Joseph’s brothers come to him for help but do not recognize him. They do not realize that they are talking to a man that they believe is dead. Joseph does not clue them in right away, but lets time pass and even shares a meal with them.

The brothers do not realize what God’s plan is or the significance of what is happening. It is not until Joseph reveals his true identity and explains things to them that they finally understand.

This story has many parallels with Luke 24:13-34, the story of two of Jesus’ disciples walking to the town of Emmaus. They are deeply distraught because Jesus has been crucified. A man walks up to them, and tries to explain to them from Scripture why the Messiah had to suffer and die.

Once they get to where they’re going, they share a meal. It’s not until the man breaks bread with them that they finally recognize that he’s Jesus and he really is alive!

Can you imagine the joy and tears that were shed when they realized this?

Can you imagine the joy and tears that Joseph, his brothers, and his father Jacob shed when they were finally reunited? It had been more than 20 years of separation. Imagine the overwhelming emotions that Jacob especially must have felt!

Another parallel is what Joseph tells his brothers after their father Jacob dies. The brothers are still afraid that Joseph will get even with them.

So they ask for his forgiveness and mercy one more time, and here is Joseph’s reply in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”

This is a foreshadowing of Jesus. The Jewish leaders of his day, hating Jesus and being incredibly jealous of him, falsely accused him and had him put to death. But all along, this had been God’s plan. Out of Jesus’ death came the invitation to eternal life for all people… the saving of many lives.

Do you see any other similarities or parallels between Joseph and Jesus’ stories?