Summary: Aiming at RECONCILIATION
God was with Joseph—He was with him in his father Jacob’s house; He was with Joseph in the house of Potiphar; He was with Joseph in the dungeon; and He was with Joseph when he ruled all Egypt. Joseph never forgot that God was with him—in good times and bad. Joseph never forgot that he was part of a divine plan. This is made clear in 50:20, a verse that perfectly sums up Joseph’s faith and his view of life: “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” Joseph had lived as a slave and prisoner on the bottom rung of society, friendless and powerless, yet he never wore the chains of a slave mentality. He maintained faith in God, never doubting God’s power, love, or plan. We see how God used Joseph to save Egypt and preserve a remnant of His chosen people. Joseph has been called the most Christ-like individual of the Bible; in his life of suffering, victory, and redemptive love he bears the image of Jesus.
The famine Joseph predicted affected the entire Middle East; it forced Jacob to send his sons to Egypt to buy grain. They appear before Joseph, who is now governor of the land, the one in charge of administering the grain. When Joseph sees them, he immediately recognizes them, but they have no idea who they are talking to. He had successfully adopted his new identity and was much older. Many years had passed, and by now they figured the brother they’d sold into slavery was likely dead; he certainly wouldn’t be the vice-regent of Pharaoh! When his brothers arrived, Joseph’s mind must have been flooded with memories!
The brothers bow before Joseph, and he recalls the dreams of his youth (42:9). His brothers had been angry and upset when he told them how, in his dreams, their sheaves of grain had bowed down to his, and how the sun, moon and stars also bowed to him. They were God’s promise to him, hidden in his heart during all the years of suffering, and they kept him from losing hope. Now God was fulfilling the prophecy of those dreams exactly. Joseph realized that his life had a great purpose and that everything that had happened to him was part of God’s sovereign plan. He knew God had sent him to Egypt for a reason, and God’s purpose was becoming clear.
Joseph accuses the brothers of being spies; the Egyptians viewed foreigners with suspicion, regarding them as potential enemies; this gave Joseph leverage to interrogate them about his father and younger brother Benjamin, to prove their innocence. In other words, he questions them to see if they’re whom they claim to be…but his real reason is to learns whether his father Jacob is still alive. Simeon is held as a hostage till they return with Benjamin. They are given grain but the money they paid is secretly returned in their grain sacks. The nine brothers return home and tell Jacob what had happened. Faced with starvation, he reluctantly grants permission for them to return with Benjamin to Egypt. Again they purchase grain, but this time a silver cup is planted in Benjamin’s sack. They are detained and searched; the cup is found, and they’re forced to return to Joseph to try to explain what happened.