Judah has come a long way. He is no longer the selfish young man who conspired with his brothers to sell Joseph into slavery (37:26–27). Though he knew that decision would have a devastating effect on his father, Judah did not seem to care. Nor is he the lustful man who propositioned the prostitute who happened to be his daughter-in-law (38:1–30). Now he is different. His priorities have changed. He is willing to sacrifice his freedom and future to save his father the grief of losing Benjamin. Judah’s transformation is not immediate; it takes years to accomplish. But his place in the family and his selfless example impact the children of Israel for generations to come.
45 Then Joseph could no longer keep his composure. The room was crowded with people so he ordered his attendants:
Joseph: Send everyone out of the room!
Joseph didn’t want anyone else in the room when he finally told his brothers his true identity. 2 But he began to cry so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the Pharaoh’s household heard it too! Joseph turned and addressed his brothers:
Joseph: 3 I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?
But his brothers were too shocked to speak. They couldn’t answer, for they were so overwhelmed that they were standing in Joseph’s presence.
Joseph (to his brothers): 4 Come closer to me.
His brothers approached him cautiously.
Joseph: I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 Don’t be upset or angry with yourselves any longer because of what you did. You see God sent me here ahead of you to preserve life. 6 For famine struck this land two years ago, and there are five more years in which there will be no plowing or harvesting. 7 God sent me here ahead of you to make sure you and your families survive this terrible ordeal and have a remnant left on earth. 8 So it wasn’t really you who sent me here, but God; the same God who made me an advisor to Pharaoh, master of his household, and ruler over everyone in the land of Egypt.
9 Hurry now, go to my father, and relay this message: “Here is what your son Joseph says: ‘God has made me master over all Egypt. Come to me and don’t delay. 10 I’ll arrange for all of you to settle in the land of Goshen where you can be near me—you and all of your children and grandchildren, as well as your flocks and herds and everything you have. 11 I will provide for you there. Since five more years of famine are still to come, I will make sure your household and everything you have will not descend into poverty.’”
12 Now you see with your own eyes, and even my brother Benjamin sees, that it is really I who speak to you even without an interpreter. 13 You must tell my father how honored I am here in Egypt. Tell him everything you’ve seen here. Hurry. Bring my father here.
14 With that he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck. They embraced, and both wept. 15 Then he kissed all of his brothers one by one, cried on their shoulders as well, and after that they talked for a time together.
16 The news spread to Pharaoh’s house that Joseph’s brothers had come. When Pharaoh and his other advisors heard, they were pleased.
Pharaoh (to Joseph): 17 Tell your brothers, “Do this: Load your animals, and go back to the land called Canaan. 18 Get your father and your families; come here to me, and I will give you the prime properties of Egypt. You will enjoy the very best Egypt has to offer.” 19 Now, Joseph, I command you to tell them also, “Do this: Take wagons from the land of Egypt so that your little children, your wives, and your father can make the journey. Come quickly. 20 Don’t worry about bringing all your things, for once you get here, the best of Egypt will be spread out at your feet.”
21-22 The sons of Israel did exactly as Pharaoh ordered. Joseph followed Pharaoh’s directive and made sure they had enough wagons. He gave them food and other supplies for their journey including an extra change of clothes. But to Benjamin he gave about seven and a half pounds of silver and five sets of clothes. 23 To his father, he sent even more: 10 donkeys loaded with the best Egyptian gifts and 10 female donkeys loaded with grain, bread, and provisions for his father for the journey. 24 Then he sent his brothers on their way. As they were leaving, he gave them one last piece of advice.
Joseph: Don’t argue along the way!
Once again Joseph and his brothers are parting company. But this time is much different: they know where he is and who he has become. Although Joseph has been separated from his brothers for many years, he remembers how they were; and he is counting on the fact that they are a quarrelsome bunch. He has intentionally given Benjamin more money and clothes than the others. That in itself is enough to cause bickering and squabbling among the crew. In addition, he knows they are worried. They have just received quite a shock. To learn after all these years that the brother they sold into slavery has become one of the most powerful men in the world takes time to process. The famine, the journey from Canaan, and the shock of seeing him again have taken a toll on them. Now they have to go back, get their families, and return. The road home leaves plenty of time to worry about what might become of them, plenty of time for nerves to fray and anger to stir. Joseph knows they have a hard journey ahead, and they need to pull together and not apart.
25 The brothers traveled east out of Egypt and eventually turned north to return to their father, Jacob, in the land of Canaan. 26 They couldn’t wait to tell him the good news.
Joseph’s Brothers: Father, Joseph is still alive! But more than that, he is ruler over all of the land of Egypt.
Their father was stunned; he couldn’t believe his ears. 27 But when they told him everything Joseph had said to them and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him to Egypt, his spirits soared, and he resolved to make the trip.
Israel: 28 I have seen enough. My son Joseph is alive! I must go and see him before I die.