top of page


Chapter 41

*Pharaoh’s dreams

v1 After two whole years, *Pharaoh dreamed. He dreamed that he was standing by the River Nile. v2 Then 7 fat healthy cows came up out of the river. They were eating the tall grass by the river. v3 Then 7 more cows came up out of the river behind them. These other cows were thin and *bony. They stood on the land by the river. They stood near the 7 fat cows. v4 The thin *bony cows ate up the 7 fat healthy cows. Then *Pharaoh woke up.

v5 *Pharaoh slept again and he dreamed again. This time he saw 7 *ears of corn, which were fat and healthy. They were growing on one stem. v6 After that, he saw 7 more *ears of corn. But these were thin and bad because the strong east wind had blown them about. And it had also damaged them because it was a hot wind. v7 The thin *ears of corn swallowed up the 7 big fat *ears of corn. Then *Pharaoh woke up. And he knew that it was a dream.

v8 So, in the morning, *Pharaoh was very worried. He sent someone to call for all the wise men in Egypt. *Pharaoh told his dream to them. Not one of them could tell *Pharaoh what it meant.

v9 Then the chief *butler said to *Pharaoh, ‘Now I remember that I have done something wrong. v10 When *Pharaoh was angry with his servants, he put us in prison. The prison was in a house. The house belongs to the captain of the guard. v11 The chief baker and I both dreamed on the same night. We each had a dream that had its own meaning. v12 There was a young *Hebrew there with us. He was a servant of the captain of the guard. We told our dreams to the *Hebrew. Then he told us what they meant. He told each man what his own dream meant. v13 It happened exactly as he said. *Pharaoh gave my job as *butler back to me. But he made someone hang the baker.’

v14 Then *Pharaoh sent people to call for Joseph. They hurried to bring him out of the prison. (The prison was in a very big hole in the ground.) Joseph shaved himself and he changed his clothes. Then he came in and he came in front of *Pharaoh.

v15 *Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I have had a dream. Nobody can tell me what it means. But I have heard this about you. When you hear a dream, you know its meaning.’

v16 Joseph answered *Pharaoh, ‘I cannot do it. But God will give a kind answer to *Pharaoh.’

v17 Then *Pharaoh told Joseph what he (*Pharaoh) had seen in his dream. *Pharaoh said, ‘I was standing on the land by the Nile river. v18 I saw 7 fat healthy cows come up out of the river. They were eating the tall grass by the river. v19 Seven (7) more cows came up behind them. These cows were very sick, *bony and thin. I have never seen such poor cows in all this country, Egypt. v20 Then the thin *bony cows ate up the 7 fat cows, which had come out of the river first. v21 Afterwards, nobody would have known that the thin cows had eaten the fat cows. The thin cows were still as thin as they had been before. Then I woke up.

v22 In my dream, I also saw 7 *ears of corn. They were growing on one stem. They were fat, healthy *ears. v23 Then 7 more *ears of corn grew out of the stem. But these *ears were thin and bad because the strong east wind had blown them about. And it had damaged them because it was a hot wind also. v24 The 7 thin *ears swallowed up the 7 healthy *ears of corn. I told my dream to the wise men. But not one of them could tell me what it meant.’

v25 Then Joseph said to *Pharaoh, ‘*Pharaoh’s dream has one meaning. God has shown to *Pharaoh what he (God) will do. v26 The 7 healthy cows are 7 years. The 7 fat *ears of corn are 7 years. It means the same. v27 The 7 thin *bony cows came up out of the river behind the fat cows. The thin cows are 7 years. Then there were 7 thin, bad *ears of corn. The strong east wind had blown them about. And it had damaged them because it was a hot wind also. The 7 thin *ears are 7 years too. They are 7 years when there will be *famine.

v28 It is as I told *Pharaoh. God has shown to *Pharaoh what he (God) will do. v29 All this country, Egypt, will have 7 years with very big harvests of food. v30 After that, there will be 7 years with *famine. The people in Egypt will forget that there were 7 years with big harvests. During the *famine, people will eat everything up. v31 People will forget the large amounts of food that were in this country. They will forget them because of the *famine which will follow. The *famine will be very bad. v32 *Pharaoh dreamed the same thing twice. That means that God has decided it definitely. Soon, God will make it happen.

v33 Now therefore, let *Pharaoh choose a man that is wise and careful. Let *Pharaoh appoint that man over this country, Egypt. v34 Let *Pharaoh appoint *overseers over the country. Let him take a fifth of the harvest in this country, Egypt. Let him take it during the 7 years when there is plenty. v35 Let people save food during the good years that are coming. And let the *overseers gather all the food that the people save at that time. Let the *overseers collect corn for food in the cities. And let them store it. Let *Pharaoh make sure that people do all this. v36 There will be 7 years when there will be *famine in Egypt. People will store the food and they will keep it until the *famine. Then they can use it. So the people in Egypt will not die in the *famine.’

v37 Joseph’s idea seemed good to *Pharaoh. And it seemed good to all *Pharaoh’s servants. v38 So *Pharaoh said to his servants, ‘Surely we cannot find a man like this, who has God’s Spirit!’

v39 Then *Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘God has shown all this to you. Therefore there is nobody that is so wise and careful as you. v40 You shall rule over my house. All my people shall do what you order. I will still be the king, but apart from that we will be equal.’

v41 Then *Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Look! I have appointed you over all this country, Egypt.’ v42 Then *Pharaoh took his special ring from his own hand. The ring had his *seal on it. *Pharaoh put the ring on Joseph’s hand. He dressed Joseph in clothes that someone had made from excellent linen (very good quality material). And *Pharaoh put a gold chain round Joseph’s neck. v43 He made Joseph ride in his second *chariot. Men cried out in front of Joseph, ‘Go down on your knees.’ So *Pharaoh appointed Joseph over all that country, Egypt.

v44 *Pharaoh also said to Joseph, ‘I am *Pharaoh. In all this country, Egypt, nobody shall lift up his hand or foot unless you say so.’ v45 *Pharaoh called Joseph Zaphenath-Paneah. He gave a bride to Joseph. She was Asenath, Potiphera’s daughter. Potiphera was the priest in the city called On. So Joseph went out over all that country, Egypt.

v46 Joseph was 30 years old when he started to serve *Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Joseph left *Pharaoh and Joseph went through all Egypt. v47 During the 7 years when there was plenty, the land produced big harvests. v48 Joseph gathered together all the spare food in the 7 years when there was plenty in that country, Egypt. He stored it in the cities. In every city, there was a store of food. People had gathered that food from the fields that were round the cities. v49 Joseph stored large amounts of corn. It was like the sand by the sea. He did not measure it any longer because there was too much to measure.

v50 Before the first year when there was *famine, Joseph had two sons. Asenath gave birth to them for him. She was the daughter of Potiphera, who was the priest in the city called On. v51 Joseph called the first son that was born Manasseh. Joseph said, ‘God has made me forget all my trouble. And he has made me forget all my father’s *household.’ v52 Joseph called his second son Ephraim. Joseph said, ‘God has made me *fruitful in this country where I had trouble.’

v53 There were 7 years when there was plenty in the country called Egypt. But they ended. v54 And the 7 years with *famine began, exactly as Joseph had said. There was *famine in all countries. But in all the country called Egypt, there was food. v55 When all the people in Egypt were starving, they cried to *Pharaoh. They cried to him for food. *Pharaoh told all the *Egyptians to go to Joseph. *Pharaoh said, ‘Do what Joseph tells you.’

v56 So when people were starving over all that country, Joseph opened all the stores of food. He sold corn to the *Egyptians. There was a bad *famine in that country, Egypt. v57 People came to Egypt to buy corn from Joseph. They came from all over the world, because there was a bad *famine over all the earth.

Joseph was still a prisoner when *Pharaoh had two strange dreams. In the first dream, 7 thin cows ate 7 fat cows. In the second dream, 7 weak stems of grain ate 7 good ones. *Pharaoh tried to use magic to understand the dreams. But the magic failed.

In chapter 40, God had shown Joseph the meaning of the *butler’s dream. As Joseph had said, the *butler was now working for *Pharaoh again. So, the *butler suggested that *Pharaoh should speak to Joseph. The officials took Joseph from the prison into *Pharaoh’s palace.

Of course, Joseph himself did not know the meaning of *Pharaoh’s dreams. But Joseph was confident that God knew the answer. God showed Joseph that both dreams had the same meaning. For 7 years, the harvests in Egypt would be good. But afterwards, for another period of 7 years, there would not be enough food. So, Joseph advised *Pharaoh to store food from the good harvests. Then, this food would be available for the next 7 years.

Joseph’s wisdom impressed *Pharaoh. *Pharaoh was confident that Joseph’s advice came from God. So, *Pharaoh appointed Joseph to be a ruler of Egypt. Only *Pharaoh himself was more important than Joseph was.

Notes on the verses

Verses 1-7 The two years were after *Pharaoh had freed the *butler from prison. Joseph was still in prison for all this time. But he did not waste his time. He continued to look after the other prisoners in a responsible manner.

The Nile River was very important for Egypt. It often flooded the land round it and that made the soil rich. Cows were very important for *Egyptians. The *Egyptians thought that cows were *holy and special. The *Egyptians thought that their *Pharaoh was a ‘god’. They also thought that dreams were messages from the gods. So when *Pharaoh dreamed, it was very important.

Verse 8 Very many wise men in Egypt studied dreams. And they used magic to find out what dreams meant. But their magic failed. They could not tell *Pharaoh the meaning of these dreams.

Verse 9 Joseph had asked the *butler to speak to *Pharaoh about Joseph’s situation (Genesis 40:14-15). But the *butler forgot (Genesis 40:23). However, the *butler remembered Joseph when *Pharaoh was worried about the dreams. We can see that God arranged the right time for Joseph to see *Pharaoh.

Verses 10-11 The chief *butler was very polite to his master, *Pharaoh. It was not polite to call the king ‘you’. So the *butler said, ‘When *Pharaoh was angry...’

The *butler described to *Pharaoh the events in chapter 40.

Verse 12 Joseph was still Potiphar’s slave and he was working for Potiphar. Potiphar was the official who looked after the prison.

Joseph would seem very unimportant to *Pharaoh. But *Pharaoh needed Joseph because God was with Joseph. God had told Joseph the meaning of these dreams.

Verse 14 *Hebrew men did not shave. They had beards. But *Egyptians did shave.

Joseph had been in prison. But now, he was preparing to meet *Pharaoh in the palace.

Verse 16 Joseph could only explain dreams because God told him the meaning. It was not because Joseph was clever. He told Pharaoh that clearly. God was doing as he had promised. And God was *blessing other nations by means of Abraham’s family.

Verses 17-21 *Pharaoh described the dreams. He added some words in his descriptions. These show that the dreams were clear in his mind.

Verse 23 The east wind was hot and dry. And so it made the grains start to become dry. They were losing their proper shape. They were not thick and smooth any longer.

Verse 24 The magic had failed. Perhaps *Pharaoh realised that he needed an answer from God.

Verse 25 *Pharaoh had dreamed two dreams, but they both meant the same thing. Most dreams just come from the imagination. But this time, *Pharaoh’s dreams came from God. God was using the dreams to warn *Pharaoh. And God placed Joseph in Egypt to help *Pharaoh in this particular situation.

Verses 26-27 Joseph showed *Pharaoh the meaning of the dreams.

Verses 28-32 Joseph gave a *prophecy about the future. He emphasised that this matter was God’s decision. *Pharaoh served false gods and he used magic. But *Pharaoh’s false gods could not save him now. And no magic could stop the troubles that would affect Egypt. *Pharaoh had received a message from the real God. So, *Pharaoh should do whatever God wanted.

Verses 33-34 In verse 33, Joseph asked *Pharaoh to appoint one *overseer. But then in verse 34, he asked *Pharaoh to appoint many other *overseers. One man alone would not be able to do the job. He would need other men to work under his authority. He could order them to do what they had to do.

Verses 35-36 God had warned *Pharaoh because God did not want the people to suffer. *Pharaoh could arrange to store food. Then, food would still be available when the harvests were poor.

Verse 38 *Pharaoh knew that Joseph had more than a man’s wisdom. God had given wisdom to Joseph. So, *Pharaoh wanted Joseph to be the *overseer.

Verses 39-41 Suddenly, Joseph became the most important man in Egypt, except for *Pharaoh. Everybody had to obey Joseph. But Joseph did not change his attitudes. He was responsible when he was in prison. And he would still be responsible as a ruler.

Verse 42 The ring was a special one. It had *Pharaoh’s *seal on it. *Pharaoh could press the *seal onto some wet *clay or *wax that was on a new law or command. That made a special mark on the *clay or *wax. The mark showed to everyone that *Pharaoh approved of that law or command.

Verse 43 *Pharaoh gave great honour to Joseph. But Joseph did not become proud.

Verse 44 Joseph was now responsible for everything that happened in Egypt. He had the right to give whatever commands he wanted.

Verse 45 Joseph had an *Egyptian wife, but that was in God’s plan. Joseph gave *Hebrew names to his sons.

Verses 46-49 There were good harvests for 7 years, as God had shown to Joseph. Joseph bought all the grain that people did not need. The grain was cheap during those years, because the people had plenty. Grain stores well in Egypt because the air is dry.

Verse 50-52 Many people forget about God when they are successful. But we can see that Joseph was still serving God. Joseph was thinking about God when he (Joseph) chose his sons’ names. Joseph knew that God had guided him.

Joseph’s troubles were in the past. Joseph had suffered greatly in Egypt. But now God had made him successful.

Verses 53-54 These things happened as Joseph had said. So, Joseph’s *prophecy was right. But God had arranged for Joseph to store the food that the people needed.

Verse 55 *Pharaoh trusted Joseph completely. Joseph would make the right decision about when to sell food.

Verses 56-57 When Joseph began to sell the grain, people from many countries travelled to Egypt to buy it. There was plenty of grain in Egypt because of Joseph’s work during the 7 good years.

Chapter 42

Joseph and his brothers

v1 Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt. Then he said to his sons, ‘Do not just stand there while you look at each other!’ v2 Jacob said, ‘Look! I have heard that there is corn in Egypt. Go down there and buy corn for us. Then we can stay alive. Then we will not die.’

v3 So 10 of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy corn in Egypt. v4 Jacob did not send Benjamin (Joseph’s brother) with the other brothers. Jacob was afraid that Benjamin might suffer something bad. v5 So Israel’s sons came to buy corn together with other people. There was *famine in the country called Canaan.

v6 At that time, Joseph was governing over the country called Egypt. He sold corn to all the people in that country. Joseph’s brothers came and they *bowed in front of him. They *bowed with their faces to the ground. v7 Joseph saw his brothers and he knew them. However, he behaved as if they were strangers. Joseph spoke severely to his brothers. ‘Where do you come from?’ he asked.

The brothers replied, ‘We have come from the country called Canaan to buy food.’

v8 So Joseph knew his brothers, but they did not know him. v9 Joseph remembered the dreams that he had had about his brothers. He said to them, ‘You are *spies. You have come to discover whether this country, Egypt is weak.’

v10 The brothers replied, ‘No, my *lord, your servants have come to buy food. v11 We are all sons of one man. We are honest men. We, your servants, are not *spies.’

v12 Joseph said to them, ‘No, you have come to discover where this country, Egypt, is weak.’

v13 They said, ‘We, your servants, are 12 brothers. We are the sons of one man in the country called Canaan. Look! Our youngest brother is today with our father. One brother is dead.’

v14 But Joseph said to them, ‘It is as I said to you. You are *spies. v15 I will test you. You will not leave here unless your youngest brother comes here. That is true quite as certainly as *Pharaoh is alive. v16 Send one man from among you to fetch your brother. All the other brothers will stay here in prison. In that way, I will prove your story. I will see whether you are telling the truth. If you are lying, then you are *spies. I tell that to you quite as certainly as *Pharaoh is alive.’ v17 Joseph put all the brothers together in prison for three days.

v18 On the third day, Joseph said this to his brothers: ‘I respect God very greatly. So do as I say. Then you will live. v19 If you are honest men, then let one of your brothers stay here. He will stay in prison. You other men should go home and you should take corn. So then the people in your *households will not die because of the *famine. v20 Then bring your youngest brother to me. So then I will know that you are speaking the truth. Then you will not die.’ They did as Joseph ordered.

v21 Then they said to each other, ‘Truly we are guilty. We saw that our brother Joseph had become very unhappy. He desperately asked us to help him. But we would not listen. So now we are suffering.’

v22 Reuben answered them, ‘I told you not to do bad things to the boy, Joseph. But you did not want to listen. Now God is punishing us because we killed him.’ v23 The brothers did not know that Joseph understood them. There was an interpreter between them and Joseph.

v24 Then Joseph turned away from them and he cried. Then he came back to them and he spoke to them. He took Simeon away from them. They watched Joseph put Simeon in chains.

v25 Joseph gave orders to fill the brothers’ sacks with corn. He gave orders to put each man’s money in his sack. And he ordered people to give food to them for their journey home. So people did all that for the brothers. v26 The brothers then loaded their *donkeys with the corn and they left for home.

v27 The brothers stopped at a place where people could lodge on the way. One brother opened his sack in order to feed his *donkey. Then he saw his money at the top of the sack. v28 He said to his brothers, ‘Someone has given my money back. Here it is in the top of my sack.’

Then the brothers were very afraid and they trembled because of fear. They said, ‘God has punished us!’

v29 They came back to Jacob, their father, in the country called Canaan. They told him everything that had happened. They said this. v30 ‘The man, the *lord of that country, spoke severely to us. He thought that we were exploring the country as *spies. v31 We told him, “We are honest men. We are not *spies. v32 We are 12 brothers, sons of one father. One brother is dead. The youngest brother is today with our father in the country called Canaan.”

v33 Then the man, the *lord of that country, said this to us. “I shall test you. In that way, I will discover whether you are honest men. Leave one of your brothers. Leave him here with me. Take the corn for the people who live in your homes. Then they will not die because of the *famine. Go home. v34 Bring your youngest brother to me. Then I shall know that you are not *spies. I shall know that you are honest men. Then I will give your brother back to you and you can trade in this country.” ’

v35 The brothers emptied their sacks. Then they discovered that each man’s money was in his sack. The brothers and their father were all afraid when they found the money. v36 Jacob, their father, said this to them: ‘You have taken my children from me. Joseph is not here. Simeon is not here. Now you want to take Benjamin away too.’

v37 Then Reuben said this to his father. ‘If I do not bring Benjamin back to you, then kill my two sons. Put Benjamin into my care. I will bring him back to you.’

v38 But Jacob replied, ‘My son shall not go down with you. His brother is dead. He is the only one that remains. Something might hurt him on the journey that you are making to Egypt. That would kill me because it would make me so very sad. I am an old man with grey hair.’

Like everybody else, Joseph’s brothers had to go to Egypt to buy food. They did not know that Joseph was a ruler in Egypt. They had sold him as a slave. And now, they did not even know that Joseph was alive.

When Joseph saw his brothers, his emotions felt very strong. He loved his brothers. He did not want them to suffer while the harvests were poor. He wanted to share with them the good things that he had received in Egypt. But Joseph realised that this might not be a good idea.

Joseph knew that, in the past, his brothers’ behaviour had been terrible. They had been selfish. They had been cruel. They had killed other men because of their anger. In fact, Joseph’s brothers had even wanted to kill Joseph himself.

Joseph was a very responsible man. He would not allow his brothers to cause such trouble in Egypt. So, he made a plan that would test his brothers. He needed to be sure that their attitudes had now changed. If they were humble, he would forgive them. If they respected him, he would give them honour and wealth. But if their attitudes were still wrong, Joseph could not help them.

Notes on the verses

Verse 1 Joseph’s brothers had grown older and they were married. But Jacob was still the master. The brothers were unhappy. They had no crops to harvest. They probably did not trust each other. Maybe they thought about whether there might be secret stores of food. People behave like that when there is *famine.

Verse 2 In chapter 12, Abraham went to Egypt for food. He went there because of a bad *famine.

Verses 3-4 Jacob believed that Joseph was dead. So, perhaps Jacob thought that Benjamin should have the *birthright. Benjamin was in fact Jacob’s youngest son. But Jacob acted as if Benjamin was more important than his other sons.

Verse 5 *Famines happened sometimes in Egypt and Canaan. But they did not usually happen in both those countries at the same time.

Verse 6 This was like Joseph’s dream in Genesis 37:7.

Verse 7 Joseph wanted to know whether his brothers still hated him. Or perhaps they were sorry about what they had done to him earlier. He did not want to punish them.

Verse 8 Joseph dressed as an *Egyptian (Genesis 41:42). He had shaved (Genesis 41:14). He spoke the *Egyptian language (Genesis 42:23). He even had an *Egyptian name (Genesis 41:45).

Verse 9 Joseph remembered his dreams in Genesis 37:7-9. So, Joseph knew that this event was God’s plan. And Joseph knew that God was guiding him.

Verses 10-12 There were many wars at this time. Rulers would send men in secret. Then, the men would return with information. Rulers would use this information when they made their plans to attack.

Joseph’s brothers had not really come to Egypt for this reason. In fact, Joseph was using this as an excuse, so that he could ask them questions. He wanted to test their attitudes.

Verse 13 The brothers clearly remembered what they had done to Joseph. Jacob probably talked about Joseph often. In *Hebrew, the brothers said that Joseph was ‘no more’. It might mean that he was dead. Or, that they did not know where he was.

Verse 15 Joseph made a serious statement. And he said that it was true ‘as certainly as *Pharaoh is alive’. So Joseph seemed very *Egyptian to his brothers.

Verses 16-17 Perhaps this was the same prison where Joseph himself had spent several years. Joseph was strict, but he was not cruel. He freed them after just three days.

Verses 19-20 Joseph wanted to send the grain to Canaan quickly. He did not want his brothers’ families to suffer. His brothers had not yet passed Joseph’s test. But Joseph knew that they would have to return. The harvests in Canaan would be poor for several more years.

Verse 21 Joseph’s brothers had put him into a pit (very big hole) and then they had sold him. Joseph had cried out to his brothers for help. The writer did not tell us about that earlier.

Verse 22 Until now, Joseph did not know that Reuben tried to save him. Now Reuben thought that God was punishing the brothers. But Joseph did not want to punish the brothers. Joseph wanted to forgive them. He felt sorry for them. He knew that they were feeling guilty. But he was not sure that their attitudes had really changed.

Verse 24 The writer does not say why Joseph chose Simeon. Joseph had just learned that Reuben, the oldest son, had tried to save Joseph (verses 22 and 23). So Joseph did not take Reuben. Simeon was the second son in order of age. Perhaps he was a leader. Simeon and Levi were very cruel when they attacked the men in Shechem (chapter 34). Simeon was Leah’s second son. Joseph kept Simeon there in Egypt. In that way, he made sure that Benjamin, Rachel’s second son, would come to Egypt.

Verse 25 The writer does not say why Joseph gave the money back. Possibly Joseph was testing the brothers. In that way, he would discover what they would do. They might keep the money. Or they might come back so that Joseph would free Simeon.

But perhaps Joseph was just being kind. He knew that the *famine would last for several more years. The brothers would need money in order to buy food. Joseph cared about his family.

Verses 27-28 The reaction of the brothers shows us that they were very worried. They did not think that God returned their money in order to show kindness. Instead, they felt even more guilty. They thought that God was punishing them. They were afraid that the *Egyptians would consider them thieves.

Verses 29-33 The brothers described the events in Egypt to Jacob, even before they opened their sacks. These events seemed terrible. Simeon was now a prisoner. The brothers never even imagined that the *Egyptian ruler might be Joseph.

Verse 34 ‘You can trade in this country.’ That means that they would be free. They could travel about in Egypt as free men.

Verse 35 The brothers probably opened only one sack on the way home (verse 28). They were afraid that it was a clever plan by Joseph. They thought that Joseph wanted an excuse. So then he could call them thieves because of the money.

Verse 36 The news really upset Jacob. Jacob probably spoke about Joseph first because Joseph had the *birthright. Then he spoke about Simeon. Jacob had not been pleased about Simeon’s cruelty. But Simeon was still Jacob’s son, so Jacob cared about him. Then Jacob spoke about Benjamin. Benjamin had become Jacob’s favourite son. Jacob had not allowed Benjamin to go to Egypt in order to protect him.

Verse 37 The brothers argued with Jacob. But Jacob certainly did not want to kill anyone, and Reuben knew this. However, Reuben still tried to argue with Jacob.

Verse 38 Jacob would not agree with his ten sons. He spoke about Joseph and Benjamin as if they were his only sons. Jacob believed that Joseph was dead. So, Jacob did not want to risk Benjamin’s life. If anything bad happened to Benjamin, Jacob would be sorry for the rest of his life.

Chapter 43

Joseph’s brothers return to Egypt

v1 The *famine was very bad in the country called Canaan. v2 Jacob’s family had eaten up the corn that they had brought from Egypt. So Jacob said, ‘Go again to Egypt to buy a little food.’

v3 Judah said to Jacob, ‘The man warned us often. He said that we would not see him again unless we brought our brother with us. v4 If you will send our brother with us, we will go down to Egypt. We will go there in order to buy food. v5 If you will not send our brother, then we will not go down. The man told us this plainly. He said that we would not see him again unless our brother was with us.’

v6 Israel said, ‘Why did you tell him that you had another brother? You did an evil thing to me when you said that.’

v7 The brothers replied, ‘The man asked us many questions about ourselves and our family. He asked us whether our father was still alive. He asked us whether we had any other brother. We only told him what he asked. We did not know that he would ask us to bring our brother down with us.’

v8 Judah said to his father Israel, ‘Send the boy in my care. Then we will get ready and we will go. Then we shall live. If we do not go, we shall all die. That includes you and all our young children. v9 I promise that the boy will be safe. I will be responsible for him. I will be guilty for always, if I do not bring him back to you safely. v10 If we had not waited, we could have gone there. And we could have come back. We could have done it twice.’

v11 Then their father, Israel said this to the brothers: ‘Take in your bags some very good things that grow in Canaan. Take a present to the man. Take for him a little *balm, a little honey, *gum, *myrrh, *almonds and other nuts. v12 Take a double amount of money with you. Take back the money that was in the sacks. Perhaps someone put it there by mistake. v13 Take your brother too. Go. Go back to the man. v14 Let God *Almighty be *merciful to you when you see the man. Then the man will send back your other brother and Benjamin. If I lose my children, then I lose my children.’

v15 So the men took the present. They took a double amount of money with them. They also took Benjamin. They got ready and they went down to Egypt. They stood in front of Joseph. v16 Joseph saw Benjamin with them. Joseph said to the *steward of his house, ‘Bring these men into my house. Kill an animal and cook it. These men will eat with me at midday.’

v17 The *steward did as Joseph ordered. The *steward brought the brothers into Joseph’s house. v18 The brothers said, ‘He has brought us here because of the money that was in our sacks. He will accuse us. He will put us in chains. He will make us slaves and he will take our *donkeys from us.’

v19 So the brothers went to the *steward of Joseph’s house. They spoke to the *steward at the door. v20 They said to him, ‘Oh, my *lord, we came down once before to buy food. v21 When we opened our sacks on the way home, we found our money. Every man’s money was at the top of his sack. All his money was there. We have brought it back with us. v22 We have also brought more money here to buy food. We do not know who put our money in our sacks.’

v23 The *steward answered, ‘It is all right. Do not be afraid. I think that your God, your father’s God, put something very valuable in your sacks for you. I had the money that you paid.’ Then he brought Simeon out to them.

v24 The *steward took the brothers into Joseph’s house. The *steward gave water to them and they washed their feet. He fed their *donkeys. v25 Then the brothers took out the present. Someone had told them that they would have a meal in Joseph’s house at midday. They decided to give the present to Joseph then.

v26 Joseph came home. Then the brothers brought the present into Joseph’s house with them. They *bowed down to the ground in front of Joseph. v27 Joseph asked whether they were well. He asked whether their old father was well. He said that they had told him before about their father. He asked whether the father was still alive.

v28 They replied, ‘Your servant, our father, is well. He is still alive.’ They *bowed their heads. And they went down on their knees in front of Joseph.

v29 Joseph looked up and he saw Benjamin, the son of Joseph’s mother. He said, ‘Is this your youngest brother? You told me about him. Let God be *merciful to you, my son!’ v30 Then Joseph hurried out. He needed to cry alone. He very much wanted to hug his brother. He went into his room and he wept.

v31 Then Joseph washed his face and he came out. He made himself calm and he ordered the servants to bring the food.

v32 The servants served Joseph separately. They served the brothers separately and they served the other *Egyptians separately. *Egyptians could not eat food with *Hebrews. *Egyptians did not eat with people from other nations. The *Egyptians believed that it was a very evil thing. v33 The brothers sat in front of Joseph. He had arranged them there in order of birth. They were in order from the oldest to the youngest. That astonished the brothers and they looked at each other. v34 The servants took food to them from Joseph’s table. They gave 5 times more to Benjamin than to anyone else. So they drank and they had a happy time together.

As the *famine continued, Jacob’s family became desperate for food again. But Jacob still would not let Benjamin go to Egypt. And the other brothers did not dare to go to Egypt without Benjamin. The *Egyptian ruler had warned them not to enter Egypt without Benjamin. Of course, the brothers did not know that this ruler was really Joseph, their own brother.

In the end, Judah persuaded Jacob to let Benjamin go. Judah promised that he would protect Benjamin. And Judah would accept the blame if anything bad happened to Benjamin.

Jacob ordered the brothers to take a gift for the *Egyptian ruler. Then, Jacob *blessed them. And he prayed for them.

When the brothers arrived in Egypt, Joseph prepared a wonderful surprise for them. He wanted to show his kindness to them. And he wanted to show them how wealthy he was. So, he provided a great meal for them. Joseph showed special honour to Benjamin, who was Joseph’s closest brother.

But Joseph still did not tell his brothers who he really was. He wanted to test them first. In the past, they had been jealous, cruel and selfish. So now, Joseph needed to know whether their attitudes had changed.

Notes on the verses

Verse 2 It is not possible to say how long this would be after the first journey. But it was probably the next year (Genesis 45:6). There were many people to feed. Each of Jacob’s sons had a family (except Benjamin). And they also had servants and animals to feed. It would have been difficult for the brothers to take back large amounts of corn. They would have needed very many *donkeys. Jacob was trying to talk as if another journey to Egypt would be simple. Perhaps he was hoping that the brothers would go, without Benjamin. Maybe Jacob hoped that ‘the man’ in Egypt had forgotten them. Jacob did not seem worried about Simeon.

Verses 3-5 Judah explained that the brothers would not return without Benjamin. They were too afraid of ‘the man’ in Egypt. They thought that he would make them prisoners or slaves.

Verse 7 Joseph really asked these questions because he cared about his family. Of course he wanted to know whether his father was still alive. Of course he wanted to know about his younger brother.

Verse 8 Judah realised that the whole family would starve without food. So, he decided to accept personal responsibility for Benjamin. Judah was making a very serious promise to his father. Of course, anyone could speak such words. The real test for Judah would be his actions when Benjamin was in danger. (See Genesis 44:33.)

People could not always trust Judah in the past (chapter 38). But Jacob trusted Judah now. Perhaps Jacob realised that Judah’s attitudes had changed.

Verse 9 The *Hebrew text has ‘I will be a surety for him’. A ‘surety’ meant that the person was willing to pay for someone else’s debt. It was a promise that the person definitely had to carry out. If the brothers stayed at home, they would all die because of hunger. That would include Benjamin.

Verse 11 Jacob made the final decision. He was the head of the family. And he was also acting as their priest. He prayed for them.

There were still special foods in Canaan. The merchants were taking such things to Egypt when Joseph’s brothers sold him. Such foods were even more precious during a *famine.

Verse 12 Jacob advised his sons that they needed a humble attitude in this situation. Their lives were in danger. They could not succeed on this journey by any clever schemes. They had to pay their debts.

Verse 13 Jacob allowed Benjamin to go.

Verse 14 Jacob prayed for them and he *blessed them. He knew that there were great dangers during this journey.

Jacob’s final words might seem to show despair. He thought that he might lose Benjamin. Jacob really loved Benjamin (Genesis 44:30-31). And Jacob cared about all his sons, although they caused him many troubles. But perhaps Jacob’s words do not really show despair. Perhaps Jacob realised that he had to trust God completely. So, Jacob told his sons not to worry about him.

Verse 15 Here we see a list of what the brothers took to Egypt. The writer puts Benjamin last in that list. Jacob did not send Benjamin because he wanted to do it.

Verse 16 Joseph felt special love toward Benjamin. Benjamin was Joseph’s closest brother. They had the same mother, Rachel. And Rachel died at Benjamin’s birth. So, when Joseph saw Benjamin, Joseph wanted to show special kindness to him. At once, Joseph invited all his brothers to a special meal.

Verse 18 The brothers did not realise that Joseph was showing kindness to them. Instead, they were afraid. So, they remembered Jacob’s advice that they needed to have a humble attitude.

Verse 19 Here the brothers were humble. They were not only humble towards Joseph himself, but they were also humble towards his servant!

Verses 20-22 The brothers offered all their silver to Joseph’s servant. They wanted to pay for everything.

Verse 23 Joseph probably told the *steward what to say. God had been kind to them. So, they should not worry.

Then the *steward brought Simeon to them. The brothers would be very pleased to see Simeon again. And they were able to relax for their meal with Joseph.

Verse 24 These were the normal acts of kindness to show to travellers.

Verse 26 Again they *bowed down to Joseph! They would even call Jacob ‘Joseph’s servant’ (verse 28)!

Now the events of Joseph’s dream in Genesis 37:7 really happened. Joseph’s 11 brothers all showed him honour.

Verses 27-28 Joseph’s first question was about his father. We can see that Joseph really cared about his father.

Verse 29 Joseph said to Benjamin, ‘Let God be *merciful to you, my son.’ Perhaps Joseph seemed older than he actually was. He was a very important person. So it was right for him to call Benjamin ‘my son’. That was a polite way for an older person to talk to a younger man.

Verse 30 Joseph’s emotions felt too strong for him to control. So, he cried. But he had to cry in private. He was not yet ready to tell his brothers who he really was.

Verse 32 Perhaps the *Egyptians had this attitude because Joseph’s brothers were *shepherds (Genesis 46:34). So, Joseph’s brothers did not sit with the *Egyptians.

Verse 33 Joseph arranged for his brothers to sit in the order of their ages. This was a custom that showed honour to the older brothers. But this astonished the brothers. They could not explain how the *Egyptians knew the correct order.

Verse 34 Joseph’s table would have the best food. The *steward passed this food to Joseph’s brothers. The *steward would serve the brothers in order. But there was too much food. So, Benjamin, the youngest brother, received much more food than anyone else. Joseph arranged this in order to show special kindness to Benjamin, whom Joseph loved.

Chapter 44

Joseph tests his brothers

v1 Then Joseph gave orders to the *steward of his house. Joseph told him, ‘Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry. And put each man’s money back at the top of his sack.’ v2 Joseph had a special cup that someone had made from silver. Joseph then told the *steward, ‘Put the cup at the top of the youngest brother’s sack. And put his money there too.’ The *steward did as Joseph ordered.

v3 As soon as daylight came, the *steward sent the brothers off with their *donkeys. v4 The brothers were only a little way out of the city. Then Joseph told his *steward to go. Joseph told him to follow the brothers. He said, ‘Go faster than them, so you catch up with them. And, when you catch up with them, say, “You have done an evil thing, when we behaved well towards you. You have stolen my *lord’s special cup that someone made from silver. v5 My *lord drinks from this cup. He also tries to discover things about the future from it. You did a wrong thing when you stole it.” ’

v6 The *steward went faster than the brothers, so that he caught up with them. He said what Joseph had ordered. v7 The brothers answered, ‘My *lord should not say such things! We, his servants, would never do that thing. v8 Look! We brought back the money that we found in our sacks. We brought it even from Canaan. So we would not steal gold or silver from your *lord’s house. v9 Let us suppose that you find the cup with someone among us. Then that man shall die. The rest of us will be my *lord’s slaves.’

v10 The *steward said, ‘Let it be as you say. The man who has the cup shall be my slave. The rest of you will be without blame.’

v11 Then every man quickly lifted his sack and he put it on the ground. Each man opened his sack. v12 The *steward searched. He started with the oldest brother and he finished with the youngest one. The *steward found the cup in Benjamin’s sack. v13 Then the brothers tore their clothes. Each man loaded his *donkey and they all went back to the city.

v14 Joseph was still in his house when Judah and his brothers came back there. The brothers threw themselves to the ground in front of him. v15 Joseph said to them, ‘Why have you done this wrong thing? You should know that I am able to discover things.’

v16 Judah said, ‘There is nothing that we can say. We cannot say anything. We cannot prove that we did not steal. God has shown that your servants are guilty. Look! We are all my *lord’s slaves. That includes the man that had the cup.’

v17 Joseph said, ‘I could never do that. Only the man in whose hand you found the cup will become my slave. You other men can go in peace to your father.’

v18 Then Judah went near Joseph and Judah said this: ‘Oh my *lord, please let your servant speak freely to my *lord. Please do not be angry with your servant. You are as great as *Pharaoh himself. v19 My *lord asked us, his servants, whether we had a father or a brother. v20 We told my *lord that we have a father. He is an old man. We have a young brother. He was born to my father when my father was an old man. The boy’s brother is dead. The boy is the only one that remains from his mother’s children. His father loves him very much.

v21 Then you asked your servants to bring our brother down to you, so that you could see him. v22 We told my *lord that the boy could not leave his father. If the boy left him, his father would die. v23 Then you said to us, your servants, ‘You will never see me again if you do not bring down your youngest brother with you.’ v24 We went back to my father, your servant. We told him what my *lord had said.

v25 Our father asked us to go again, in order to buy a little food. Then we told him that we could not come down. v26 We told him this: We could come down only if our youngest brother was with us. Then we could come down. We could not meet the man unless our youngest brother was with us.

v27 Then my father, your servant, said this to us: As we knew, his wife had two sons. v28 My father said that one son went out. He has never seen that son since. It was certain that an animal tore the son to pieces. v29 My father told us this: If we took this son away, this son too might die. Then my father would be very sad. And that would cause him to die, since he is an old man. So in that way we, your servants, would have killed him.

v30-31 Therefore, let us suppose that I go back to your servant my father without the boy. Then my father will die, because he lives only for this boy. My father will die because he will be so sad. So in that way your servants will have killed our father, your servant. v32 I, your servant, promised this to my father: I said, “If I do not bring the boy back to you, you can consider me guilty all my life.”

v33 Now therefore, please let me stay as my *lord’s slave instead of the boy. Let the boy go home with his brothers. v34 I cannot go back to my father without the boy. I am afraid to see how much my father would suffer.’

Joseph’s plan to test his brothers was a simple plan. But it was also very clever.

In chapter 37, Jacob had given the *birthright to Joseph. Joseph’s brothers were jealous and they hated him. So, they sold him to be a slave when they had the opportunity.

Now, Joseph would give his brothers the opportunity to make Benjamin a slave. Benjamin had become Jacob’s favourite son. So, perhaps they were now jealous of Benjamin. Perhaps they wanted Benjamin to lose the *birthright too.

Joseph arranged the test well. The brothers really believed that the *Egyptians wanted to take Benjamin as a slave. And perhaps the brothers even thought that Benjamin deserved this, as a punishment.

In Genesis 43:9, Judah accepted responsibility for Benjamin’s safety. Judah was the brother who actually sold Joseph as a slave. But now, Judah’s attitudes had changed. Judah wanted to become a slave himself, so that Benjamin could be free. So now, Judah was both noble and humble. He offered to lose everything in order to rescue his brother.

Notes on the verses

Verses 1-4 Joseph wanted to pretend that Benjamin was a thief. Then, Joseph could see the reaction of the other brothers.

Verse 5 *Egyptians used to look into cups that they had just drunk from. They looked at the bottom of the cups. The wine would leave a pattern in the bottom of the cups. And the *Egyptians studied such patterns as a type of magic. A cup that someone used for that purpose would be very special. It would be much more important than an ordinary cup that people drank from. We do not think that Joseph really used his cup in that special way. God has told us not to do such things. Joseph continued to be loyal to God (Genesis 45:5-8). Instead, we think that Joseph was pretending to use magic. His brothers used to serve *idols (Genesis 35:2). So, perhaps they would be afraid when Joseph spoke about magic.

Verses 7-8 The brothers were sure that they were innocent. They had even tried to return the silver that they found in their sacks after the first journey.

Verses 9-10 It was polite for the brothers to offer more than they needed to. And it was polite for the *steward to refuse their offer.

Verse 12 This happened in the order of their ages, as in Genesis 43:33. Of course, this meant that the *steward looked in Benjamin’s sack last.

Verse 13 Usually, when people tore their clothes, they were very sad and very anxious. In that way, they were showing how bad they felt. This was the custom when a relative died. So, the brothers were acting as if Benjamin would die.

Verse 14 Judah was the leader of the brothers at that time because of his promise (Genesis 43:9). Earlier they had *bowed, because they respected Joseph. This time, they threw themselves to the ground. They did that because they were afraid. And they wanted *mercy.

Verse 15 We do not think that Joseph really used magic. He was using these words because of the effect that they would have on his brothers.

Verse 16 We do not know what Judah thought. Possibly he might have thought that Benjamin had really stolen the cup. But maybe Judah meant something else. Perhaps God was punishing the brothers because they had done evil things in their lives. Or perhaps God was punishing them because of what they had done to Joseph. Judah did not know that the whole situation was part of God’s plan.

Judah was very humble. He did not try to argue with Joseph. And Judah was polite. He again offered that all the brothers would suffer the punishment together. But, unlike in verse 9, he did not offer that Benjamin might die. Judah had promised to look after Benjamin.

Judah did not agree that the magic had proved Benjamin to be guilty. Instead, Judah said that God knew the truth. We do not know whether Judah really understood this.

Verse 17 Joseph was testing the brothers. He wanted to discover what they would do. Possibly the other brothers might leave Benjamin, so that they could save themselves. Joseph would discover whether they would do that. Or perhaps they would risk their own lives in order to save Benjamin.

Verse 18 Judah might have said nothing. Then, he and his brothers would be free. Only Benjamin would remain in Egypt, as a slave. In the past, Judah would have done that. But now his attitudes had changed.

Verses 19-26 Judah explained the events in chapters 42 and 43.

Verse 27 Judah was speaking as if Jacob had only one wife, Rachel. That would mean that Judah’s own mother (Leah) was a *concubine. And it would mean that Joseph always deserved the *birthright. If Joseph were dead, Benjamin would have the *birthright.

Verse 28 Judah thought that Joseph was dead (verse 20). But it seems that Jacob still had hope. However, he did not deny the evidence that the brothers had produced.

Verse 29-31 Joseph often asked the brothers about their father. And it seems that the *Egyptians respected old people (Genesis 47:8-9). So, Judah asked Joseph to save Benjamin because otherwise Jacob would suffer.

Verse 32 Judah told Joseph about Judah’s promise in Genesis 43:9. Now, Judah would do what he had promised to do. And Judah would do it, although it would ruin his own life.

Verses 33-34 Judah asked to become Joseph’s slave so that Benjamin could go free. Judah thought that he himself would never be a free man again. He showed great courage.

When Joseph heard this, he could not control his emotions. At last, the time had come for Joseph to tell his brothers who he really was.

Chapter 45

Joseph says who he is

v1 Then Joseph could not stay calm any longer. Many people were standing near him. He cried out, ‘Make everyone go away from me!’ So there was nobody there when Joseph told his brothers. He told them who he was. v2 He wept aloud. The *Egyptians heard him and the people in *Pharaoh’s *household heard him.

v3 Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph. Is my father really still alive?’ His brothers could not answer him. They were very fearful to be with him.

v4 So Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Please come close to me. I am your brother Joseph. You sold me into Egypt. v5 And now, do not be anxious. Do not be angry with yourselves because you sold me here. God sent me ahead of you to save people’s lives. v6 There has been a *famine in this country for two years now. There will be *famine for 5 more years. During that time, nobody will plough or harvest. v7 God sent me ahead of you. Then I could keep some people still alive on the earth for you. I could help many people to stay alive.

v8 It was not you that sent me here. But it was God. God has made me like a father to *Pharaoh. I am the *lord over all *Pharaoh’s *household. And I am the ruler over all the country called Egypt. v9 Hurry back to my father and tell him this: “Your son Joseph tells you that God has made him *lord over all Egypt. He wants you to come down to him immediately. v10 He wants you to live in the region called Goshen. You will be near him there. Bring your children and grandchildren. Bring your *flocks and *herds. And bring everything that you own. v11 Joseph will take care of you there. There will still be 5 more years with *famine. If you do not come, you might become very poor. That includes you and your *household. And it includes all those that belong to you.”

v12 Now I am speaking to you with my own mouth. You can see that with your own eyes and my brother Benjamin can see it. v13 You must tell my father about all the great honour that I have in Egypt. Tell him everything that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.’

v14 Then Joseph hugged his brother Benjamin and Joseph wept. Benjamin, too, wept in Joseph’s arms. v15 Joseph kissed all his brothers and he wept over them. Then his brothers talked with him.

v16 The people in *Pharaoh’s *household heard the news that Joseph’s brothers had come. *Pharaoh and his servants were very happy. v17 *Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Tell your brothers to do this. Tell them to load their animals. And tell them to go back to the country called Canaan. v18 Let them fetch their father and let them fetch the people in their *households. And let them come to me. I will give to them the best part of this country, Egypt. They shall eat the best food that the land in Egypt produces.

v19 Tell them to do this too. Tell them to take wagons from this country, Egypt. They will need them for their young children and wives. Tell them to fetch their father. And tell them to come. v20 They need not worry about their goods. The best things in all this country called Egypt are theirs.’

v21 Israel’s sons did that. Joseph gave wagons to them, exactly as *Pharaoh ordered. Joseph gave food to them for their journey. v22 He also gave special clothes to them. He gave to Benjamin 300 *shekels of silver. And he gave 5 special long coats to Benjamin. v23 Joseph sent things for his father. Joseph loaded 10 *donkeys with good things from Egypt. He loaded 10 female *donkeys with corn, bread and other food for his father’s journey. v24 Then Joseph sent his brothers away. As they were leaving, he said to them, ‘Do not quarrel on the journey.’

v25 So the brothers went up out of Egypt. And they came back to their father Jacob in the country called Canaan. v26 The brothers told Jacob that Joseph was still alive. They said that Joseph was ruling over the country called Egypt. Jacob was very anxious. He did not believe the brothers. v27 But they told Jacob all that Joseph had said. The brothers showed the wagons to Jacob. Joseph had sent those wagons to carry Jacob. Then the brothers’ father Jacob (also called Israel) became more cheerful. v28 Israel said, ‘I need nothing else. My son Joseph is still alive. I shall go. And then I shall see him before I die.’

Joseph had to pretend that he was someone else. He did that in order to test his brothers. But now, Judah had shown that their attitudes had changed. In the end, Joseph could not control his emotions. He had to cry. And he wanted to hug his brothers. So, he quickly ordered his servants to leave the room.

Even when Joseph spoke to his brothers in their own language, they could not immediately recognise him. And they were afraid of him. But Joseph’s words helped them to feel more confident. Joseph was not angry with his brothers. He forgave them. He believed that, in fact, God sent him (Joseph) to Egypt. God sent Joseph there to save lives. And now, Joseph was able to save his own family from the terrible *famine.

*Pharaoh was pleased to hear that Joseph’s brothers had come from Canaan. *Pharaoh wanted the whole family to live in Egypt. *Pharaoh even sent wagons so that the weaker members of the family could travel to Egypt more easily.

The news from Egypt astonished Jacob. But, when he saw the wagons, he believed. He knew that God had been kind to Joseph. And Jacob saw that the events in Joseph’s dreams (Genesis 37:7-9) really happened. Jacob could remember the promises that God gave about his family (Genesis 35:11-12). So, Jacob was confident that God would do these things too. These things would happen after Jacob’s death, but Jacob still believed (Hebrews 11:21; Hebrews 11:13). But now, Jacob would go to see Joseph again. And, during the journey, God would speak to Jacob again (Genesis 46:3-4).

Notes on the verses

Verse 1 Joseph wanted this to be a special time that he could spend with his family. He wanted to take away anything that was between his brothers and himself. For them, he was their *Hebrew brother. Although he was also an important *Egyptian ruler, he need to be with his own family now.

Judah had shown that the brothers had changed. They were not willing to leave Benjamin in order to save themselves.

Verse 2 Joseph wept. We can imagine his feelings of delight and relief.

Joseph tried to make this meeting private. Perhaps he was unsure what the *Egyptians would think about his family. But in fact, everybody heard that Joseph’s family had arrived. Even *Pharaoh heard. And *Pharaoh was very pleased.

Verse 3 Joseph asked again about his father. That showed again his love for his father. Judah had made it clear that the father was very weak.

In some translations, the brothers were ‘dumbfounded’. It means that they could not speak. And they could not do anything. That was because they were so surprised, afraid and confused!

Verse 4 Joseph was a very great ruler. His visitors usually stood at a distance in order to give honour to him. But he wanted his brothers to come closer. They needed to recognise him. And he wanted to hug them.

Verses 5-8 Joseph knew that God had controlled his (Joseph’s) life. He mentions God many times in these verses.

In verse 8, a ‘father to *Pharaoh’ meant someone that advised *Pharaoh. It meant someone that helped *Pharaoh. It had no connection with age. And it had no connection with relatives in a family.

Verses 9-11 Joseph wanted his father and the whole family to come to Egypt. Then, Joseph could look after them during the *famine.

Verse 12 Here Joseph was speaking *Hebrew to his brothers. He was not speaking in the *Egyptian language.

Verse 13 Joseph wanted his father to hear how much God had *blessed Joseph.

Verses 14-15 This was a very happy meeting. It was the custom for relatives to hug and to kiss. These actions showed that Joseph loved his brothers. The brothers had not met Joseph for nearly 20 years, until they saw him in Egypt.

Verse 16 People in Egypt liked Joseph very much. Everyone was pleased about his family.

Verses 17-20 *Pharaoh was very generous. He did everything possible to bring the whole family to Egypt. He did not even want them to bring their possessions from Canaan. *Pharaoh could provide much better things for them in Egypt.

Verse 21 Joseph sent his brothers back to Canaan. He told them to bring the entire family back to Egypt.

Verse 22 Joseph gave new clothes to his brothers. They had torn their clothes when Joseph’s *steward arrested Benjamin (Genesis 44:13).

Verse 24 In the *Hebrew text, Joseph told his brothers not to ‘tremble’. In other words, they should keep their emotions calm. It may mean that they should not be afraid or anxious. And they should not accuse each other. They should be friendly to each other.

Verses 25-26 At first, Jacob did not believe the news. The brothers had to show him the wagons that *Pharaoh sent.

Verse 27 Jacob had been sad about Joseph since the events in Genesis 37:34-35. And Jacob thought that those terrible feelings would never leave him. Only Benjamin was able to comfort Jacob (Genesis 44:30-31). But the wonderful news about Joseph changed everything for Jacob. At last, Jacob’s spirit felt strong again. Jacob was excited. He wanted to go to see Joseph at once.

Verse 28 The writer suddenly calls Jacob by his other name, ‘Israel’. This was the special name that God gave to Jacob (Genesis 32:28). The writer uses this name to emphasise Jacob’s relationship (friendship) with God. Jacob’s (Israel’s) family was starting to grow into the nation called Israel. And the families that belonged to that nation would live in Egypt for over 400 years.

Jacob said that he would see Joseph before his (Jacob’s) death. These might seem like sad words, but they are not. Jacob meant that his life’s work was complete. God had done everything that Jacob hoped. God had even returned Joseph, who seemed dead, to Jacob. So, Jacob was not worried about the future. Jacob needed nothing else to make him content. And he would be content for the rest of his life.

bottom of page