Joseph’s Meeting with His Brothers and the Moving of Jacob into Egypt
During the seven years of plenty, Joseph gathered in Egypt so much grain that it was sufficient not only for the years of hunger but also for sale to other lands. People began to come to Egypt from everywhere for grain because the famine was over the entire earth.
The sons of Jacob, from the land of Canaan, also came to Egypt for grain. They came to Joseph, bowed down to him to the earth, but did not recognize him. But Joseph recognized his brothers and involuntarily recollected his dreams from childhood. In order to learn whether or not his brothers had improved, he treated them severely and said to them, “Ye are spies. To see the nakedness of the land ye are come “
“Nay,” his brothers answered, “but to buy food are thy servants come. We are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan. We used to be twelve, but the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not.”
“If ye speak the truth,” said Joseph, “Then let one of you remain here, and the others take bread and bring the younger brother.”
The brothers spoke among themselves, thinking that Joseph did not understand them, as they spoke through interpreters. “We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw his anguish of soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear. Therefore is this distress come upon us.”
When Joseph heard what they were saying, he went out of the room and wept. Afterwards, he kept Simeon and let the rest of the brothers go.
After a year the brothers again came to Egypt for grain and brought with them their youngest brother Benjamin. Joseph, when he saw Benjamin with them, commanded to bring them to his house and to prepare a dinner for them. When he looked at Benjamin he was moved to tears of joy. So that his brothers would not notice his tears, he went into the next room and washed his face. After dinner, Joseph ordered the grain put into their sacks, but he ordered the silver cup from which he drank himself to be put into the sack of Benjamin. The next day he let them all go home.
The brothers had barely departed, when Joseph ordered his steward to overtake them and search them to see if they had not stolen his cup. The cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. The brothers all returned to Joseph, fell down before him to the ground and said, “God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants. Behold, we are thy servants.”
“No,” answered Joseph, “let the one who stole the cup remain as a slave, but you can return to your father.”
Then Judah came forward and said to Joseph, “My lord! Our father is old and loveth this son more than all. I gave a pledge to bring him back safely. It is better that I should remain a slave with thee in place of him, but do thou let him go with his brethren to their father, for if he doth not return, our father shall die of grief.”
Now Joseph saw that his brothers had learned their lesson, and no longer hid himself from them. He sent all his servants out of the room, began to weep and said to them, “I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.” The brothers were so astounded that they could not speak.
But Joseph continued, “Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve your lives. For these two years hath the famine been in the land, and yet there are five years more…Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him…, come down unto me, and tarry not.” After this he embraced and kissed Benjamin and all his brothers, and he wept as he embraced them.
When Jacob learned with tremendous joy that his son Joseph was alive, he moved with all his family to Egypt.
For seventeen years the aged Jacob-Israel lived in Egypt. When he began to approach death, he first blessed Joseph and his children, Manasses and Ephraim. Joseph brought his children to his father, so that the elder Manasses stood at Jacob’s right hand and the younger Ephraim stood at his left. But Jacob crossed his hands so that his right hand was on the head of Ephraim and the left on the hand of Manasses. And he blessed them, Ephraim as the elder and Manasses as the younger.
This crossing of Jacob’s hands for blessing was a foreshadowing of the Cross of Christ, and that people would receive the Lord’s blessing not by seniority but according to their good works and worthiness.
Afterwards, when he had gathered all his sons about his bed, he gave each of them his blessing and prophesied of Judah that of his offspring there would come forth kings over the Hebrew people until the time when the Peacemaker, that is, Christ the Saviour, should come.
After this, he commanded his sons to bury him in the land of Canaan where his fathers were buried. Jacob-Israel died at the age of one hundred and forty years and was taken by his sons into the land of Canaan and buried there.
Fifty years after Jacob’s death, Joseph also died. Before his death he said that God would lead the Hebrew people out of Egypt and return them to the land of Canaan. He commanded that his bones be taken to his native land. In Egypt the family of Jacob-Israel began to multiply rapidly and became the people which came to be known as the Israelites or the Hebrews. It was divided into twelve tribes according to the number of the twelve sons of Jacob.
The story of Joseph, who suffered from his brothers but who was later glorified and saved their lives, was a foreshadowing of Christ the Saviour. The Saviour also suffered at the hands of His own people, died on the Cross, then arose and was glorified and saved men from sin and eternal death.
Note: See Genesis, chaps. 41:47-57; 42-50.
(from: The Law of Godby Fr. Seraphim Slobodskoy)