* image originated here
Genesis 41 – 45
Pharaoh has two dreams that trouble him greatly, but none of his magicians or wise men can tell him what it means. Finally, the cup-bearer remembers Joseph and how he could tell the meaning of their dreams. He tells Pharaoh of what happened, so Pharaoh sends for him. Joseph gives credit to God for anything he might be able to tell Pharaoh about his dreams. Then not only is he able to tell him what the dreams mean, he gives Pharaoh a plan for saving Egypt from the foretold famine. He doesn’t even expect that Pharaoh will put him in charge of putting this plan in motion. Instead, Joseph tells him to seek out a man who he trusts to carry this out. Pharaoh’s response is only the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promise to Joseph when he was still a child in his father’s house. He is made second in command of all Egypt, he is given a wife who bears him two sons (Manasseh and Ephraim), and the abundance he gathers to save Egypt is without count. If you want to know what Joseph has really been going on in Joseph’s mind during these years of slavery look no further than the way he names his sons: vs. 51-51 Manasseh because God has made him forget his troubles and his father’s household and Ephraim because God has made him fruitful in the land of his suffering.
The famine was so severe it reached all the way back to Canaan. Jacob soon heard that there was food in the land of Egypt so he sent his 10 older sons to investigate and buy food if they could. Joseph recognized them when they came but, they didn’t recognize him. He declares that they are spies and throws them in prison for three days. Then he tells them to choose a brother to leave behind when they have he will let them take food back to their families and they can return with their youngest brother to prove they aren’t spies. Simeon is imprisoned and the others return home. On the way there they discover that their money has been returned to them in their sacks of grain. Jacob is terrified. He will not let his older sons take Benjamin back to Egypt, treating Simeon as if he is already dead.
The famine only gets worse. Soon Jacob is forced to send all his sons, including Benjamin, back to Egypt for food. When they arrive Joseph lays out a feast for them. Still concerned about the money they found in their sacks they discuss it with Joseph’s steward who says that it must have been God’s doing that they found the silver there because he received their payment. At the feast Joseph is so moved by seeing his brother Benjamin that he has to leave the party looking for a place to let out his grief privately. He returns and they are seated. The brothers are amazed because their placement is from oldest to youngest!
The brothers leave the next day not knowing that Joseph has set up for them a final test. In their sacks is placed their silver just like before but, in Benjamin’s sack is also placed the silver cup Joseph was using at the feast. Once they are some ways from the city, Joseph has his steward pursue them to ask them why they have repaid good with evil and stolen from his master. The brothers of course don’t know what has happened so they deny the claims saying that if any of them are found with it that person shall die and the rest become his slaves. The steward dials that back a bit saying that only the person found with the cup will become a slave and the rest will be free of blame. The cup is discovered in Benjamin’s sack causing the brothers to be very distressed. They return to the city with the steward to beg for Benjamin’s life. Judah even offers to take his place in order to save his father’s grief. That is quite a long way to come from selling your brother into slavery out of jealousy to offering to take your father’s other favorite son’s place as a slave…
Joseph sees how far his brothers have come and can stand hiding from them no longer. He sends all of his servants from the room which hardly matters because his crying is so loud his entire household hears the good news. He tells his brothers not to be afraid and not to be angry with themselves for selling him into slavery. It was God who sent him to Egypt so He could deliver them from the coming famine. Can you even imagine having that attitude about all that has happened to Joseph is it were you suffering all that time? I certainly can’t! But God is merciful to him. His family is reunited with him coming to Egypt to live under Joseph’s providence for the rest of their lives and they do bow to him as God showed him they would in his dreams.