Genesis 45-46 by Robert Dean
Series:Genesis (2003)
Duration:51 mins 44 secs

Forgiveness and Reconciliation. Genesis 45-46


As we have been studying Joseph one of the major doctrines we have been spending time on has to do with reconciliation, not just forgiveness in terms of our relationship with God but forgiveness and reconciliation in terms of our relationship with people. Sometimes that is a lot tougher for us to deal with because although when we commit sin and we confess our sins to God, God instantly forgives, removes the sin as far as the east is from the west, we still have to deal with problems of divine discipline but when we are back in fellowship we have the resources of the Holy Spirit in order to deal with any difficulty that comes our way; but when it comes to someone who has abused us, maltreated us, someone who out of real hatred or anger toward us desired to do as much harm as possible, and succeeded in some cases, it is at those times we find it extremely difficult to truly forgive and be reconciled to those people.


We have seen Judah's pleading with Joseph to protect Benjamin and the change in his attitude, and that his focus is not on himself, that he was willing to take Benjamin's place and become enslaved by Joseph in order to protect him, and his motivation is to protect their father. It is so moving to Joseph that Joseph just breaks down in front of them and it is at this point that Joseph finally identifies himself to his brothers. He is going to interpret for his brothers the events that had taken place ever since they had sold him into slavery. It is in this that we begin to see played out in the Old Testament history and narrative the reality of Romans 8:28, that God causes all things to work together for good.


Genesis 45:1 NASB "Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried, 'Have everyone go out from me.' So there was no man with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers." He was in an audience chamber, he had his brothers in front of him, but he also had all of his stewards as well as soldiers who would be there to protect them, law enforcement officials. But he wants everybody out so that he will be in privacy with his brothers. Remember he is Jewish, a Semite who would be looked down upon by the Egyptians if he acted as a Semite. The Egyptians had a tremendous bias and racial prejudice against the Semites. Joseph has taken on all of the culture of the Egyptians and this set him apart, so he doesn't want to offend all of his Egyptians servants and on the other hand he doesn't want anyone else there. There brothers are there but they think Joseph is dead and the last thing they are going to believe is that he is truly Joseph. He does something very private here in order to reveal himself to them. How did he make himself known to his brothers?


There is more going on here than simply him saying he was Joseph. What is the sign of the Abrahamic covenant? Circumcision. Joseph is going to reveal himself as circumcised. It was not a practice that the Egyptians would have followed. He is authenticating his claim: "I am a son of the covenant." [2] "He wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard {it,} and the household of Pharaoh heard {of it.} [3] Then Joseph said to his brothers, 'I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?' But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence." Notice that Joseph's emphasis here is on Jacob. The brothers are scared to death, terrified now because the second most powerful person in all of Egypt and can do anything to them that he wants and nobody is going to challenge him. They are convinced that he is going t kill them. Then Joseph calmly explains: [4] "Then Joseph said to his brothers, 'Please come closer to me.' And they came closer. And he said, 'I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.' Here is where he begins to explain to them what had happened. [5] "Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life." In other words, stop all the emotion, stop the guilt, that is not going to change or affect anything, let's look at the situation now from the divine viewpoint.


That is where we get many times in our life when we have made bad decisions, and they come back to haunt us, so we beat up on ourselves. Why did I make that decision? Well maybe God has another plan and it is not just the plan we thought it was going to be. God is still in control, despite the fact that we have a sin nature and our motives were wrong and our actions were wrong, and we were out of the plan of God in terms of being disobedient to His revealed will, we can't get out of the sovereign will of God. There are two different types of the will of God that the Scripture talks about: the revealed will of God, all of the prohibitions and the positive mandates in Scripture; and the sovereign will of God which includes sinful actions, because God is goi9ng to use everything to bring about His purposes—all is going to work together for good and that is the principle that Joseph is focusing on here. They violated the revealed will of God, and God certainly disciplined all of them, as He did Judah. But God had a sovereign will that they could not escape, and that was that he turned their bad decisions into that which was good.


[6] "or the famine {has been} in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. [7] God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance." Notice the terminology here. God is the subject of the active voice verb. They were the ones who made the decision to throw Joseph in the pit and to sell him into slavery, but he recognizes they are not operating out from under God's sovereign control. It doesn't mean God is making those decisions for them; this isn't some sort of fatalism. They could have made good decisions and God still would have worked to take Joseph into Egypt, but even though they made sinful decisions, nevertheless God worked it out to bring about His purposes. [8] "Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt." God could have intervened and kept Joseph in the land. The word "father" in this verse is an idiom which means a protector. That is how God has allowed Joseph to function as a protector to the Pharaoh, by giving him the revelation regarding the seven years of prosperity and seven years of famine, so that Joseph in his wisdom could come in and provide protection through his wise plan of operation.


Now he focuses back to his father [9] "Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, 'Thus says your son Joseph, 'God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay.'" Then he is going to give instructions to them to go back and get Jacob and the rest of the family to come and dwell in Goshen where Joseph can protect them and God will nurture the nation over the next four hundred years, and they will expand from being seventy people who come with Jacob to a nation of about 2 to 3-million.


Then we have the reconciliation scene in verses 14 & 15. [14] "Then he fell on his brother Benjamin's neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. [15] He kissed all his brothers and wept on them, and afterward his brothers talked with him." That must have been a tremendous conversation, catching up on all of the things that had happened to them and their families.


[16] "Now when the news was heard in Pharaoh's house that Joseph's brothers had come, it pleased Pharaoh and his servants." And Pharaoh is going to do what he can in his gratitude to Joseph to take care of his family. Verses 17-20 describe Pharaoh's provision. So this is just another way in which God provides protection for the descendants of Abraham. [21] "Then the sons of Israel did so; and Joseph gave them wagons according to the command of Pharaoh, and gave them provisions for the journey." God provides ever4ything that is logistically needed in an abundant manner. This is God's grace, as always, in abundance.


In vv. 24-28 he sends the brothers back and they come to Jacob, and they stun him [26] "They told him, saying, 'Joseph is still alive, and indeed he is ruler over all the land of Egypt.' But he was stunned, for he did not believe them. [27] "When they told him all the words of Joseph that he had spoken to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived.' It was only when he saw all of this provision that the Pharaoh had sent that he knew it must be true. They validated the sons' statement that it was Joseph.


Chapter 46 describes their movement from the land of Canaan to Egypt. Note the process. We see the divine viewpoint orientation of Jacob. He is referred to again as Israel throughout this period which highlights his positive spiritual status at this time.


Genesis 46:1 NASB "So Israel set out with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac." Beersheba was where Abraham had planted a tree and had lived there. Notice what happened after Jacob had offered sacrifices. God speaks to him. [2] "God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, 'Jacob, Jacob.' And he said, "Here I am.'" God reveals His plans and His blessings to Jacob. He speaks in a vision. There is direct propositional revelation, i.e. it was given in clear verbal statements. [3] "He said, "I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you a great nation there." Now we see God's revealed will, for He is telling Jacob that this is what He wants him to do. When you have God's revealed will it is propositional, it is not liver-quiver, not going up into your closet and waiting for God to somehow stir you. Whenever God is telling people what His will is in the Scripture it is always clear, it doesn't have to be guessed at. He is revealing to Jacob not only what he should do but what God is going to accomplish in the future. [4] "I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will close your eyes." God would bring them up again in the sense of their descendants, but Jacob would not see it. Joseph would put his hand on Jacob's eyes; he would be dead.


In vv. 8-27 there is a catalogue of everyone who is leaving the land. There is a list here of everyone in the family. We need to pay a little bit of attention here because there is a bit of a conflict in a couple of passages. As we go through the list we see that there are 33 descendants through the sons that Jacob had with Leah. There are 16 from the sons of Zilpah, Leah's handmaid. There were 14 through the two sons of Rachel—Joseph and Benjamin. There are seven through Bilhah who was Rachel's maid. If we add all of these up we have 70, plus Dinah, the daughter, making it 71.


In verse 12 there is a listing of all of Judah's sons, but there is also the parenthetical note that Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. So we have to subtract them because they are already departed. Then we have to subtract Joseph and Manasseh and Ephraim because they're in Egypt. So from the 71 we subtract 5, and that leaves 66. We take the 66 and when they get to Egypt we add in Joseph, Manasseh, Ephraim and Jacob himself, and we are back up to 70. There is a conflict here because of a statement made by Stephen in Acts 7:14 This is Stephen's speech to the Pharisees and where they stone him. He says, "Then Joseph sent {word} and invited Jacob his father and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five persons {in all.}" One of the most widely accepted solutions here is to recognize that the Hebrew text includes Jacob, Joseph and Joseph's two sons as part of the 70, but when the LXX totalled it Jacob and Joseph was omitted but Joseph's seven grandchildren were included. They were mentioned in 1 Chronicles 7:14, 15 and 20, 25. That seems to be supported by the text in Genesis 46 which lists 66 names, omitting Jacob, Joseph and Joseph's two sons from the list. But another solution is that the LXX's 75 (that is what Stephen was quoting) included the 66 plus nine wives for nine of those sons, because Joseph's wife is in Egypt and Judah's and Simeon's wives have died. That leaves only nine of them with wives that are still alive. Stephen is simply relying upon the KJV version of his day, which was the Septuagint. It counted the names a little differently but there was the same group of people. It is not really a mistake.


Genesis 46:28 NASB "Now he sent Judah before him to Joseph, to point out {the way} before him to Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen." The family comes to Goshen and settles there. Notice the role of Judah continues to be one of a leader. He has reformed his life and shown that he is a mature leader by the way he has handled himself. [29] "Joseph prepared his chariot and went up to Goshen to meet his father Israel; as soon as he appeared before him, he fell on his neck and wept on his neck a long time." Gen 46:29 Joseph prepared his chariot and went up to Goshen to meet his father Israel; as soon as he appeared before him, he fell on his neck and wept on his neck a long time. [30] Then Israel said to Joseph, 'Now let me die, since I have seen your face, that you are still alive.'" Joseph then shows that he is still thinking. He may be emotional in this reunion but he has thought out a plan because he wants to make sure that they are in a place of protection. So he tells his brothers that he is going to go to Pharaoh that they are all coming from Canaan and that they are shepherds. The Egyptians just didn't like shepherds so they don't want to have shepherds in their environment. So there is a rationale behind Joseph's emphasis here. What happens is that the Jews are placed here and this becomes, as it were, a womb. It is in that womb that the nation is going to grow until God is going to give birth to them as a nation when He brings them out in the Exodus.


What has been going on here is an illustration of the principle of Romans 8:28: "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to {His} purpose." Even though our life may not take the course that we thought it would, should, or what fitted our dreams, God is still in control and He is going to bring about that which he has planned. Our job is to be resilient enough in order to realign ourselves with what God is obviously doing. His sovereign will certain includes, allows for and permits things to happen in our life that are wrong, and he allows people to do things to us that are wrong, but God is the one who allows it to bring about His purposes. This, then, allows us to be like Joseph and to say, 'You may have meant it for evil but God meant it for good. You sold me into slavery and you beat me up and abused me, but I can forgive you because I know that God had a plan in all of that and He was working out His purposes. And it is not up to me to bring about vengeance or retribution or justice, but it is up to God.