God's Saving Work Through Joseph
Comments for Study 25
Memory Verse 45:7-8
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I. Joseph Remembers His Dreams (42:1-38)
>1. Why did Jacob send 10 of Joseph's brothers to Egypt (1-5)
Genesis 42:1-5 "When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, "Why do you just keep looking at each other?" He continued, "I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die." hen ten of Joseph's brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph's brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm might come to him. So Israel's sons were among those who went to buy grain, for the famine was in the land of Canaan also."
* "When Jacob learned" -Jacob and his family were in the middle of a very long drought. Many of their animals were probably dead. They were probably hungry, dry, tired, and depressed. God had told Jacob that he would bless him. What did Jacob think now? We don't know except he did not go down to Egypt himself. He sent his sons.
* "Why do you keep looking at each other?" -They were hoping the other had some advice and comfort.
* "I have heard" -Jacob must have had communication with the people around him. Perhaps people were traveling to and from Egypt on the trade route near his home. Perhaps he heard of it when he or one of his family members went into town.
* "he was afraid harm might come to him" -Jacob did fear things, in this case the well being of his favorite son since Joseph seemingly died. He must have feared someone or some animal killing Benjamin. At this time in his life Jacob was mature and strong in his faith. He called the LORD his God. Still he feared for his son. Abraham also had fear at times. Fear is part of life in this cursed world. Jesus often told his disciples, "Do not be afraid." He taught them, "Trust in God. Trust also in me."
* "Benjamin" -His mother died 35:19 and Joseph appeared to be dead (37:33).
* "to buy grain" -Jacob was losing his family savings as was probably most families in the area of the drought.
* Stephen refers to his in Acts 7:11-12. "Then a famine struck all Egypt and Canaan, bringing great suffering, and our fathers could not find food. When Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers on their first visit."
* "fammine was in the land of Canaan" -Also during the time of Abraham. (12:10)
>2. What did Joseph think of when he saw his brothers? What does this show about his faith? How did he treat them? Why? What information about themselves and their family did the divulge?
Genesis 42:6-9 "Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the one who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph's brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. "Where do you come from?" he asked. "From the land of Canaan," they replied, "to buy food." Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, "You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected."
* "governor of the land" -Had control over everything.
* "the one who sold grain to all the people" -only one of his duties and because of the drought perhaps the most important.
* "they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground" -In fulfilment of Joseph's first dream as a youth. (37:7)
* "Joseph recognized his brothers" -They had a distinct dress, haircut, and speech that around twenty years apart could not erase.
* "they did not recognize him" -Joseph was dressed, manicured, and spoke like an Egyptian.
* "then he remembered his dreams" -Because they had not made much difference in his life he forgot them. God must have caused him to remember. The way that the dream was fulfilled was most likely nothing like any of them imagined, especially Joseph. Why was he given the dreams? It seems so that he would remember at this time, setting the stage for his brothers to be tested and refined in faith. God often surprises us, though he is never surprised.
* "You are spies" -Why was he mean? He was not mean. Remembering the dreams made Joseph realize why he had them in the first place and why he was now in the position he was in. The LORD his God had a plan for him. He knew what his brothers were like twenty years earlier, nothing like they should have been. Now he was in a position to test them and refine their faith. Also, in his position and because of the drought, he could not leave Egypt. If he wanted to see his father and brother, they would have to come to him. In his youth Joseph only saw weaknesses in and made fun of his brothers, now he would help them. He had the power and authority to put them in jail and even kill them out of retribution. That would not have been right in God's eyes. He too had matured through the LORD's working in his life.
>3. How did Joseph propose to prove that they were not spies? (9b-20) What confession did this treatment elicit? (21-33) Why did Joseph weep?
Genesis 42:10-11 ""No, my lord," they answered. "Your servants have come to buy food. We are all the sons of one man. Your servants are honest men, not spies."
* The ten brothers were completely at the mercy of Joseph. He could have done anything to them.
* "we are all sons of one man" -Spies from Canaan would have been from several city/states. Canaan was made up of many small city power bases. Egypt at this time was united under one Pharaoh, making it the region's major power.
* "your servants" -Respecting authority is wise.
* "honest man" -Knowing their past as we do we could say, "No they are not." From their eyes they were more honest then others around them. We should not judge ourselves against others. We should judge ourselves against the word of God.
* "not spies" -Being a spy was a trumped up and created accusation. Joseph knew otherwise and created it to create a reason for them to fear his absolute power, a power they could have saw as Egypt's power, but more than anything else saw as God's power over their lives and former actions.
Genesis 42:12-17 ""No!" he said to them. "You have come to see where our land is unprotected." But they replied, "Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more." Joseph said to them, "It is just as I told you: You are spies! And this is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here. Send one of your number to get your brother; the rest of you will be kept in prison, so that your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If you are not, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!" And he put them all in custody for three days."
* The ten brothers set out to prove they are brothers on a mission from their father. To do this they give all kinds of details, putting themselves and their families at some risk.
* "as surely as Pharaoh lives" -a swear by a reigning monarch showed a statements absoluteness.
* "your youngest brother comes here" -To the brothers it seemed he wanted proof. The real motive behind Joseph was to see his brother in the only way he could and to test his brothers. People have hidden agendas; sometimes for our good and sometimes for our downfall. How should we live? we should always seek to do right in God's eyes and trust in his sovereignty.
* "in custody for three days" -Showing his power and giving them a chance to think. They would also learn what it was like to be in a prison, the hole that they had throne him in.
* The continuing disunity between the brothers continued through the times of judges and to this very day.
* Joseph suggested that one of them could return to get Benjamin. None of them took him up on the offer.
>4. What additional anxiety did he give them? Why? How did they respond?
Genesis 42:18-24 "On the third day, Joseph said to them, "Do this and you will live, for I fear God: If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households. But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die." This they proceeded to do. They said to one another, "Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that's why this distress has come upon us." Reuben replied, "Didn't I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn't listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood." They did not realize that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter. He turned away from them and began to weep, but then turned back and spoke to them again. He had Simeon taken from them and bound before their eyes."
* "for I fear God" -Joseph brought up God before they did.
* "let one of your brothers stay here in prison" -Joseph refined his earlier proposal.
* "and take grain back" -Something not brought up until now.
* "for your starving households" -The brothers had not said this, but all knew how severe the famine was, especially to send people from so far. Pharaoh's dreams was interpreted as the famine years would be very great.
* "surely we are being punished because of our brother" -The time in jail was a good learning revelation.
* "but we would not listen" -Now Joseph wasn't listening to their pleads of innocents. They realized that they were going through what they put their brother through.
* "we would not" -Reuben included himself.
* "Reuben" -the oldest and the one who should have been responsible for the families well being, especially since Jacob was so old now.
* "Didn't I tell you" -He had told them when they did it that he would remind them of what they did. (37:21-22, 29-30)
* "for his blood" -Either he believed the boy was dead or he was referring to Joseph's bloody rob they gave to their father so he would conclude he was dead.
* Sin is like cancer. It slowly eats away at our conscience, at our very being.
* "an interpreter" -Joseph was disguising himself. None of those under his command questioned what he was doing because he had absolute power.
* "He turned away" -He did not want to give up the ruse.
* "began to weep" -Showing the great distress he still felt about what they had done. Also, because he knew that at least Reuben accepted their sin.
* "Simeon" -the second oldest.
Genesis 42:25-28 "Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to put each man's silver back in his sack, and to give them provisions for their journey. After this was done for them, they loaded their grain on their donkeys and left. At the place where they stopped for the night one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey, and he saw his silver in the mouth of his sack. "My silver has been returned," he said to his brothers. "Here it is in my sack." Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, "What is this that God has done to us?"
* "back in his sack" -Another action to set up their testing, and at the same time to assure that they had enough money to by more grain.
* "them provisions for their journey" -Joseph was not repaying them for their cruelty. He was assuring a good outcome for all.
* "on their donkeys" -It seems that they no longer had the camels that Jacob arrived in Canaan with. (31:17)
* "sank... trembling" -Fear of attack from Egypt and fear of God.
* "God has done" -They did not do and as far as they knew the Egyptian would not do, so they concluded it must have been God's doing. In a way, they were right. God's servant, Joseph was acting on God's behalf and the well being of his family.
>5. When they reported what had happened to Jacob and asked him to send Benjamin, what was his response? Why?
Genesis 42:29-34 "When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them. They said,
30 "The man who is lord over the land spoke harshly to us and treated us as though we were spying on the land.
31 But we said to him, 'We are honest men; we are not spies.
32 We were twelve brothers, sons of one father. One is no more, and the youngest is now with our father in Canaan.'
33 "Then the man who is lord over the land said to us, 'This is how I will know whether you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take food for your starving households and go.
34 But bring your youngest brother to me so I will know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I will give your brother back to you, and you can trade in the land.'"
* They did not lie to their father as they did in their youth. They respected him. Yet, they did not share with him what they thought about the situation. They did not confess their sin against him and God.
Genesis 42:35-38 "As they were emptying their sacks, there in each man's sack was his pouch of silver! When they and their father saw the money pouches, they were frightened.
36 Their father Jacob said to them, "You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!"
37 Then Reuben said to his father, "You may put both of my sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back."
38 But Jacob said, "My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in sorrow."
* Jacob saw everything against him, yet he did not blame God. At the same time he does not seem to go to God. Even if he did, I doubt that God would reveal to him what was happening.
* "to the grave" -Jacob often spoke of the grave in his old age, opposite of his youthful seeking a bright future at any cost.
* "entrust him to my care" -Jacob had no reason to.
* "you may put both of my sons to death" -what a horrible thing to say just to prove he means his word.
* Joseph's actions was hardest on his father.
II. Judah's Change (43:1-44:34)
>6. Why were they so long in returning? Why did Jacob finally agree to send Benjamin? How did Joseph react upon seeing him?
Genesis 43:1-7 "Now the famine was still severe in the land.
2 So when they had eaten all the grain they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, "Go back and buy us a little more food."
3 But Judah said to him, "The man warned us solemnly, 'You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.'
4 If you will send our brother along with us, we will go down and buy food for you.
5 But if you will not send him, we will not go down, because the man said to us, 'You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.'"
6 Israel asked, "Why did you bring this trouble on me by telling the man you had another brother?"
7 They replied, "The man questioned us closely about ourselves and our family. 'Is your father still living?' he asked us. 'Do you have another brother?' We simply answered his questions. How were we to know he would say, 'Bring your brother down here'?"
* "eaten all the grain" -Perhaps a year later. Jacob value for Benjamin over Simeon is greatly displayed.
* "Jacob said" -The brothers did not and would not act. Jacob did.
* "Judah said" -Judah is taking a leadership role now and forward, even though he is the fourth oldest. Most likely Jacob because Jacob had blamed Rueben for the failed first mission and would not listen to him nor respect him as leader again. Later, Jacob did not give the three oldest a good blessing. Judah received the leadership blessing, but Joseph's son received all the rest of the blessings.
* The family only choice was die now of famine, or die in Egypt.
* "Israel" -The new name the LORD had given him.
* "you bring this trouble on me" -Israel was correct more than he knew.
* "the man questioned us closely" -This is not recorded, but may be true.
Genesis 43:8-14 "Then Judah said to Israel his father, "Send the boy along with me and we will go at once, so that we and you and our children may live and not die.
9 I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life.
10 As it is, if we had not delayed, we could have gone and returned twice."
11 Then their father Israel said to them, "If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift--a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds.
12 Take double the amount of silver with you, for you must return the silver that was put back into the mouths of your sacks. Perhaps it was a mistake.
13 Take your brother also and go back to the man at once.
14 And may God Almighty grant you mercy before the man so that he will let your other brother and Benjamin come back with you. As for me, if I am bereaved, I am bereaved."
* "I myself will guarantee his safety" -Joseph's training was taking effect in Judah.
* "personally" -He put himself on the line, where Reuben put his sons on the line.
* "the best products" -Jacob would do all he could to assure his son's well being.
* Why didn't Jacob go? He was a very old man. The trip would most likely been his death.
* "God Almighty" -Israel recognized God is in total control.
* "grant you mercy" -Jacob had a hard life since returning to Canaan. Yet his faith in the mercy of God remained.
* "your other brother" -He did not use Simeon's name.
* "bereaved" -means suffering the loss of a loved one, Benjamin
Genesis 43:15-23 "So the men took the gifts and double the amount of silver, and Benjamin also. They hurried down to Egypt and presented themselves to Joseph.
16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, "Take these men to my house, slaughter an animal and prepare dinner; they are to eat with me at noon."
17 The man did as Joseph told him and took the men to Joseph's house.
18 Now the men were frightened when they were taken to his house. They thought, "We were brought here because of the silver that was put back into our sacks the first time. He wants to attack us and overpower us and seize us as slaves and take our donkeys."
19 So they went up to Joseph's steward and spoke to him at the entrance to the house.
20 "Please, sir," they said, "we came down here the first time to buy food.
21 But at the place where we stopped for the night we opened our sacks and each of us found his silver--the exact weight--in the mouth of his sack. So we have brought it back with us.
22 We have also brought additional silver with us to buy food. We don't know who put our silver in our sacks."
23 "It's all right," he said. "Don't be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks; I received your silver." Then he brought Simeon out to them."
* Joseph's meal with his brothers gave him another chance to see if his brothers had changed.
* "frightened" -They were completely at Joseph's grace as Joseph had been at youth to them. They experienced the fear he had.
* "so we brought it back to us" -though not right away. They waited until they needed more food.
* "Your God, the God of your father" -He reminded them of their God, not an Egyptian God.
* "I received your silver" -Perhaps Joseph paid for their first purchase, thus making this true.
* "Simeon to them" -Thus proving to them they were not in harms way.
>7. Why were the brothers so fearful in Joseph's house? How did Joseph continue to astonish them? Why?
Genesis 43:24-34 "The steward took the men into Joseph's house, gave them water to wash their feet and provided fodder for their donkeys.
25 They prepared their gifts for Joseph's arrival at noon, because they had heard that they were to eat there.
26 When Joseph came home, they presented to him the gifts they had brought into the house, and they bowed down before him to the ground.
27 He asked them how they were, and then he said, "How is your aged father you told me about? Is he still living?"
28 They replied, "Your servant our father is still alive and well." And they bowed low to pay him honor.
29 As he looked about and saw his brother Benjamin, his own mother's son, he asked, "Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about?" And he said, "God be gracious to you, my son."
30 Deeply moved at the sight of his brother, Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to weep. He went into his private room and wept there.
31 After he had washed his face, he came out and, controlling himself, said, "Serve the food."
32 They served him by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews, for that is detestable to Egyptians.
33 The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest; and they looked at each other in astonishment.
34 When portions were served to them from Joseph's table, Benjamin's portion was five times as much as anyone else's. So they feasted and drank freely with him."
* Joseph let the steward do the work.
* "When Joseph came home" -Joseph had been working for Pharaoh all day.
* "and they bowed down low" -Another fulfillment of the dreams of Joseph's youth.
* "God be gracious to you" -Later blessings would echo this.
* "looked for a place to weep" -He did not want anyone, not even his servants know his motives and feelings. (45:1) Joseph often wept, a emotional man. Jesus wept over Jerusalem's rejection of his Messiahship.
* "him by himself" -He was in total power.
* "Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews" -They looked down on shepherds and anything to do with sheep. (Ex. 8:26)
* "order of their ages" -Joseph wanted the oldest to learn that God expected them to be true leaders of the family.
>8. What serious problem did Joseph create for his brothers as they were leaving Egypt? (44:1-13) why do you think he did this?
* Joseph's training his brothers continues similar to earlier.
* They all returned to the city even though they were told that they were free to go. They were on the way to passing the test of loyalty to their father, to Benjamin, and their word.
>9. How did Judah respond to the crisis? Why? In what ways does this event show his change in character?
* "divinations" -A religious practice to this day, the hidden work of Satan. Joseph, of course never used it. He set this all up and used divination as an explanation to his sending the servant to them.
* "God has uncovered your servant's guilt" -A true confession of repentance needed by all of God's people.
* "go back to your father in peace" -The final test.
* "Judah... your servant guaranteed the boys safety" -He kept his word. He was willing to sacrifice himself for someone else.
* We can learn of this. Joseph is being like Jesus is to us. Jesus, our brother, tests us as Joseph tested his brothers. Based on what we do in this life as believers in him, Jesus will reward us. Many of Jesus' parables teach this and the apostles confirmed in in their writings.
III. Joseph Reveals Himself (45:1-28)
>10. What moved Joseph to tears? How did his brothers react when he told them who he was? Why could Joseph not ony forgive his brothers but also positively help them both materially and spiritually? (45:1-11)
>11. What can we learn from Joseph about God and how he works? (45:1-11)
* The emotion here spills over thousands of year to this day.
* "they were terrified" -Joseph still had complete power over them, and they knew it.
* "it was to save lives that God" -Somewhere along his life Joseph knew the reason God had done what he had done in his life. Most likely it was when his brothers came to Egypt the first time and he remembered his dreams.
* "God sent me ahead of you" -Did Joseph know that God had told Abraham that his descendant would stay a while in Egypt for four generations (Gen. 15:13)? It seems so.
* "for two years now" -This gives us a time line.
* "to preserve for you a remnant" -If God did not place Joseph in charge of the food in Egypt, Israel would die in the famine.
* "it is not you who sent me here but God" -A statement of grace and faith.
* "region of Goshen" -The upper east delta area of Egypt, very fertile and normally well watered.
* "and be near me" -The city of Rameses was on the north western edge of Goshen
* "tell your father" -Jacob considered the the meaning of Joseph's youthful dreams. Now he would know their fulfillment and know he is Joseph.
* "Afterwards his brothers talked to him" -Joseph must have told all that had happened. (27) His brothers must have expressed sorrow, joy and gratitude. Yet, we do not know. We can only speculate.
* "were pleased" -Joseph must had been somewhat a mystery to them. He most likely never told them how he ended up as a slave, nor where he was from to protect his family.
* "I will give you the best of the land" -Pharaoh had acquired the land through the famine purchases. He would give it to them, though not forever. After the first generation died Pharaoh would take it back.
* "the best of Egypt will be yours" -Because of God's work through Joseph. Similar, we receive because of Jesus.
* "the sons of Israel" -This is the first time they were called Israel.
* "Don't quarrel on the way" -They might start blaming each other.