Well, I finished my reading of Genesis for this year. I’d say I’m surprised at how fast the days went by, but I like Genesis so much that the time always seems to go by quickly. As I finished up the story about Joseph, I had some different thoughts about an incident between Joseph and his brothers after the death of their father, Jacob.

At the time of his death, Jacob had lived in Egypt for seventeen years. I’ve always imagined that anything that needed to be said about Joseph’s brothers selling him into slavery would have been said by this time in seventeen years. However, we see after the death of Jacob that Joseph’s brothers were afraid Joseph would take some sort of revenge against them for what they had done to him.

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?”

Genesis 50:15 (NIV)

It’s strange how people think sometimes. You’d have thought if their brother Joseph had wanted to harm his brothers for throwing him into slavery, that he’d have done it seventeen years ago when they first showed up on his doorstep looking for food. Why take them all in, tell them they were forgiven, and open up all of Egypt to them, just to hold a grudge after so many years?

This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.

Genesis 50:17 (NIV)

I’ve always thought Joseph’s brothers were lying to him about what they claimed Jacob told them to say. After all, it’s been seventeen years! The subject of what happened obviously came up sometime during those years. It’s hard to believe Jacob wouldn’t ask Joseph how he got to Egypt and into his high position. I’m certain Jacob knew all about it by the time he died and had forgiven his sons for all of the grief they had caused. If Jacob still held anything against them in this matter, he’d have brought it up when he blessed them, but he didn’t. Therefore, it seems odd that Jacob would tell them to go and ask Joseph for forgiveness after he died.

Then it hit me. Joseph wept when his brothers came asking for his forgiveness. Why did Joseph weep?

I see two possible reasons for Joseph’s weeping.

  1. His feelings were hurt.
  2. He was thankful.

If Joseph’s feelings were hurt, then the logical question is why? When Joseph first revealed himself to be their long-lost brother, he made every effort to not blame his brothers for what had happened. It’s possible he was surprised and hurt because his brothers still thought he’d take some sort of revenge against them. However, I believe there was something deeper going on.

I love my family. They are dear and precious to me. When I got saved, God changed my heart. When God changes our hearts, we so desperately want those we love to have their hearts changed as well. We show them love, kindness, forgiveness, mercy, grace, and compassion. We try and love them the way God loves us, and sometimes they just don’t see it because they are still in the world. Even though they’re still in the world, sometimes they do their best to be the person they think we want them to be.

Joseph’s brothers, except for Benjamin, hated him enough to want him dead. Instead, they decided to sell him into slavery. Twenty-two years later, they discover Joseph is not only alive and well but second in command of Egypt. They expected Joseph to retaliate against them, but he never did. He loved, forgave, and showed them kindness and mercy. Seventeen years later, their father dies, and they are afraid that Joseph holds a grudge against them.

While there were doubts and fears deep within Joseph’s brothers, there was also, I believe, an earnest desire to repent.

His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.

Genesis 50:18 (NIV)

Joseph’s brothers offered themselves up to be his slaves as an act of repentance. The same brothers who sold him into slavery because they hated him were so sorry for what they had done that they offered themselves up to be slaves. His brothers were trying to atone. I don’t think they were devoted followers of the Lord like Joseph, but they were trying to make amends, and I think Joseph was thankful.

Were they lying to Joseph about what Jacob said? Perhaps. Perhaps not. What matters is they were trying to repent, and they sincerely were sorry.

But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

Genesis 50:19-21 (NIV)

Joseph hadn’t always been a humble person. Before he was thrown into slavery by his brothers, he was anything but humble. However, after so many years in slavery, and in prison, he learned to be humble, and he learned to trust God.

Do you know God? God knows you, and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart, and I receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.