Genesis 45: Familial Revelation

Genesis 44 ended on a cliffhanger with Judah pleading to Joseph (whom he still does not know is his brother) to not take Benjamin as his slave because it will cause the grieving death of their father.

Joseph, hearing this and seeing how Judah is standing up for Benjamin and how his father still remembers him, can bear the ruse no longer. He weeps loudly and tells his brothers who he really is. They do not believe him at first, but as he elaborates, they come to believe. The great thing about Joseph’s revelation to his brothers is that he puts God at the center of all of these events: “for God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. “Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph: “God has made me lord of all Egypt” Genesis 45:6-9

Joseph is assured of his place in God’s plan and he sees it clearly, which few can (especially when unaided by hindsight). His faith in God is palpable and his place in His plan is unmistakable.

Joseph as the Christ figure is especially poignant in this scene as he tells his brothers that he will save them from sure death during the next five years’ famine. Rewards and optimal living conditions will be theirs as they retrieve Israel to travel back to Joseph and meet him after all this time. Like Christ, those whom Joseph would save did not recognize him at first. Also like Christ, Joseph solves a serious problem for his brothers, a problem that was more serious than they knew.

Joseph’s reunion with Benjamin and the rest of his brothers is heartfelt and meaningful. We can only imagine the reunion: “Then he fell on his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. Moreover he kissed all his brothers and wept over them, and after that his brothers talked with him.” Genesis 45:14-15

The brothers’ separation began with envy, exclusion, and banishment, but it ends with forgiveness, sharing, and celebration. Another similarity with the story of Jesus Christ is exemplified in this aspect of the story. Jesus, a Jew, was rejected by his own people yet He comes to be the pathway to salvation for us all, loving us without urging, and accepting us when we accept and obey Him. The brothers must have been dumbfounded and grateful as they realized the surreal situation they found themselves in – a familiar state of mind for the individual that suddenly realizes that Christ died for them so their sins could be washed away.

When Pharaoh hears that Joseph has been reunited with his brothers, he is in full support of sending them back home with many possessions so that they might return with Israel to live safely in Egypt through the famine. In fact, Pharaoh, encourages the act and they go back to Canaan with “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.” But, again, Joseph gives Benjamin extra. The proclivity to playing favorites seems hereditary for this family.

When the brothers finally make it home to Israel in Canaan and tell him of all that has happened, he does not believe it initially. Yet, as the details of the story come to light, Israel slowly comes to believe that his beloved son Joseph is still alive. Israel’s final words in this chapter are poetic and leave us in suspense once more: “It is enough. Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”

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