In today’s verses, Joseph’s brothers get to have lunch with him in his house. And they give him the gifts their father had them bring for him.
When they give him the gifts, they bow down before him . . . again. Don’t you know that those childhood dreams keep popping back up in his mind every time he sees them bowing down?
Then he asks about their father, if he’s still alive. They let him know he is.
Then Joseph looks around and sees Benjamin — his only full brother. He asks if that’s their younger brother they told him about and then he says to Benjamin, “God be gracious to you, my son!” And he immediately runs out of the room because he can’t contain his emotions any longer.
I wouldn’t have made it that long! What a dramatic scene.
When Joseph has a good cry and gets his emotions under control again, he comes back in and has his servants serve lunch.
And he plays with his brothers’ minds a wee bit. He has them seated in birth order. And they notice it. In fact the Amplified Bible says, “. . . the men looked at one another amazed [that so much was known about them].”
And he had the servants give Benjamin five times as much food as the other brothers.
Maybe I’m just a suspicious sort, but I think my radar would be going crazy. I’d be wondering how the governor of Egypt found out our ages and why he likes Benjamin so much!
I do have a serious question, though. Why does Joseph take so long to reveal his identity to his brothers?
I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a sermon explaining that.
I can understand why he didn’t reveal himself to his half-brothers on their first trip there. If he had, I’m not sure they would have ever returned, because I don’t think they would have trusted him.
I have a guess as to why. But it’s just my opinion.
I think Joseph knew he had to establish himself in his new identity and in his position of authority before he could safely reveal who he was to his family.
It reminds me of something a Bible teacher said the other day. She talked about how we are adults and we are responsible for our attitudes and behaviors, no matter what may have happened to us as kids that we had no control over. Then she talked about how she feels 12 years old every time she goes back to her parents’ house. She says that’s one of the hardest places to act like an adult because your parents and siblings KNOW YOU! And they can still easily see you as the kid you once were.
So my thought is that Joseph knew he did not want to go back to being thought of as the obnoxious, mistreated, apple-of-Daddy’s-eye, immature, teenager who was hated and bullied by his older half-brothers. He didn’t want them to see him like that. He had come too far and worked too hard and he deserved more respect than that.
So he made sure they knew who he was and how far his authority reached. He made sure he had their respect before he revealed who he was.
I don’t think he did it for spite or vengeance. I just think he knew he had to set firm boundaries . . . because he KNEW his half-brothers!
I’d love to hear what you think his reasons were!
Genesis 43:24-34 / Amplified Bible (AMP)
24 And the man brought the men into Joseph’s house and gave them water, and they washed their feet; and he gave their donkeys provender.
25 And they made ready the present they had brought for Joseph before his coming at noon, for they heard that they were to dine there.
26 And when Joseph came home, they brought into the house to him the present which they had with them, and bowed themselves to him to the ground.
27 He asked them of their welfare and said, Is your old father well, of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?
28 And they answered, Your servant our father is in good health; he is still alive. And they bowed down their heads and made obeisance.
29 And he looked up and saw his [full] brother Benjamin, his mother’s [only other] son, and said, Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me? And he said, God be gracious to you, my son!
30 And Joseph hurried from the room, for his heart yearned for his brother, and he sought privacy to weep; so he entered his chamber and wept there.
31 And he washed his face and went out, and, restraining himself, said, Let dinner be served.
32 And [the servants] set out [the food] for [Joseph] by himself, and for [his brothers] by themselves, and for those Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, according to the Egyptian custom not to eat food with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination to the Egyptians.
33 And [Joseph’s brothers] were given seats before him—the eldest according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth; and the men looked at one another amazed [that so much was known about them].
34 [Joseph] took and sent helpings to them from before him, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs. And they drank freely and were merry with him.