As we have seen in the previous chapters in Genesis, Joseph foreshadows Christ, in type only, more than any other character in Scripture. In chapter 41 we see him exalted and given much honor and glory and then he is awarded a Gentile bride to share with him his joy and glory in the land of Egypt.
The last several chapters of Genesis deal with Joseph and his brethren. The story of his fame spread to his estranged brothers in the land of Canaan and also that there was grain aplenty for all in need down in Egypt. Little did they know that the man whose name was better known than Pharaoh’s was their own brother whom they had sold into slavery about twenty years before.
Genesis Chapter 41 ends with these words: “And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.”
GENESIS 42:1-38 1: "Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another? 2: And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die. 3: And Joseph's ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt. 4: But Benjamin, Joseph's brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him. 5: And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan. 6: And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph's brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth."
When Joseph was a boy at home, he had some dreams. Genesis 37:4-10: “And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him. 5: And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. 6: And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: 7: For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. 8: And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words. 9: And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. 10: And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?”
Continuing on with Genesis 42, verse 7; “And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; And he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food. 8: And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him. 9: And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them, and said unto them, Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come."
There must have been thousands of people who came from many distant lands to buy grain. Each of them had to “go to Joseph” to purchase that grain and somehow, out of all that multitude that came over the seven years of famine, Joseph recognized his brothers.
With Joseph’s accusation of them as spies, they open up further in denial and start to give their family history.
10: "And they said unto him, Nay, my lord, but to buy food are thy servants come. 11: We are all one man's sons; we are true men, thy servants are no spies. 12: And he said unto them, Nay, but to see the nakedness of the land ye are come. 13: And they said, Thy servants are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and, behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not."
Joseph has forced them to tell that they had a brother at home and that one of their brothers is supposed dead. Speaking through an interpreter, He will gave them a way to prove their honesty, but with a very stringent requirement.
14: "And Joseph said unto them, That is it that I spake unto you, saying, Ye are spies: 15: Hereby ye shall be proved: By the life of Pharaoh ye shall not go forth hence, except your youngest brother come hither. 16: Send one of you, and let him fetch your brother, and ye shall be kept in prison, that your words may be proved, whether there be any truth in you: or else by the life of Pharaoh surely ye are spies. 17: And he put them all together into ward three days. 18: And Joseph said unto them the third day, This do, and live; for I fear God: 19: If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison: go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses: 20: But bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die. And they did so. 21: And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us. 22: And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required. 23: And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter."
With the three days in prison to think this all over, there seems to be dissension among the brothers. When they again face Joseph, keep in mind that they still don’t realize that Joseph understands everything they are saying.
He heard his brothers talk of the anguish of his soul and how he pleaded with them and how Reuben tried to release him before they sold him to the Midianites. God put a tremendous guilt load on them and they were sure they were about to reap the just reward of their awful act. Those accusations made them recall their guilt and sin and made it naked before them.
Verse 24a: "And he turned himself about from them, and wept;"
Their conversation was too much for him and he broke down and cried. He wasn’t dealing with Gentiles strangers here. All those who came to him for grain before were Gentiles, but these were his own brethren after the flesh, the sons of Israel. The brothers must have been deeply puzzled as to why the most powerful and dignified man in all Egypt would break down and weep in front of them. After all, how could he know what they were saying? What could it have to do with him? He left the room to regain his composure and then returned.
Verse 24b: "and returned to them again, and communed with them, and took from them Simeon, and bound him before their eyes."
Joseph kept Simeon as security for their return and released all the others. The story then continues with their eventful trip home and the meeting with their father, Jacob.
25: "Then Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with corn, and to restore every man's money into his sack, and to give them provision for the way: and thus did he unto them. 26: And they laded their asses with the corn, and departed thence. 27: And as one of them opened his sack to give his ass provender in the inn, he espied his money; for, behold, it was in his sack's mouth. 28: And he said unto his brethren, My money is restored; and, lo, it is even in my sack: and their heart failed them, and they were afraid, saying one to another, What is this that God hath done unto us? 29: And they came unto Jacob their father unto the land of Canaan, and told him all that befell unto them; saying, 30: The man, who is the lord of the land, spake roughly to us, and took us for spies of the country."
In telling their father the story of their meeting with the highest official in Egypt, they said he spoke roughly to them and accused them of being spies. They didn’t understand why, out of the thousands who came to buy grain, he would accuse them of being spies. It was to force them to admit their guilt.
At times, it was necessary also for Jesus to speak roughly
to His brethren after the flesh.
Matthew 12:34. “O generation of vipers, how can ye,
being evil, speak good things?"
31: "And we said unto him, We are true men; we are no spies: 32: We be twelve brethren, sons of our father; one is not, and the youngest is this day with our father in the land of Canaan. 33: And the man, the lord of the country, said unto us, Hereby shall I know that ye are true men; leave one of your brethren here with me, and take food for the famine of your households, and be gone: 34: And bring your youngest brother unto me: then shall I know that ye are no spies, but that ye are true men: so will I deliver you your brother, and ye shall traffick in the land. 35: And it came to pass as they emptied their sacks, that, behold, every man's bundle of money was in his sack: and when both they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid. 36: And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me. 37: And Reuben spake unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee: deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again. 38: And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave."
The chapter ends with Jacob’s lament over his two lost sons and Reuben’s promise to take Benjamin to Egypt and to return him safely along with Simeon. Little did Jacob know that the long lost and supposed dead son, Joseph, would also be returned to his father.
Joseph’s supreme lordship was acknowledged throughout all Egypt and the surrounding lands. Only those who would obey Pharaoh's mandate to “go to Joseph,” would receive life giving bread. His brethren after the flesh would soon run out of grain and have to return to Egypt and bow down again to their once rejected brother.
He could have sold them the grain that would sustain their lives, or he could have refused them and thereby gotten revenge for their treachery to him. But this wouldn’t satisfy his heart. He wanted their conscience to cause them to repent for their deeds so that he personally might become dearer to them than life itself. If he had told them at first who he was, they would undoubtedly have admired him and his power and success, but he wanted more than that, he wanted their love.
We can see many symbolic things that are typical of Christ in His sojourn on earth. Christ came to earth as the Bread of Life when the world was in a state of spiritual starvation. While He was here, He was rejected and betrayed by his brethren in the flesh and sold for the price of a slave.
He alone is the Bread of Life and in sufficient quantity to supply the needs of every sinner who will “go to Jesus,” confess their sins, and bow down to Him as their Savior.
Joseph estranged himself from his brothers with the immediate effect they remembered what they had done to their brother. He spoke roughly, but his heart was filled with goodness toward them. He was as wise as he was loving.
Although he accused them of being spies, he gave them grain and returned their money in their sack so that they would realize that his salvation to them was without money or price. His rough manner of speaking to them evidently hurt him more than it did them, and he broke down and wept in their presence. Just think how hurt he must have been that his own brothers could look at him and fail to recognize him. Christ must have felt this same anguish as His own brethren failed to recognize Him.
He couldn’t contain the anguish of his heart
and He wept on a hillside overlooking Jerusalem.
Luke 19:41: “And when he was come near,
he beheld the city, and wept over it.”
He wept because his brethern didn’t recognize
and accept Him as their Messiah.
Joseph could have placed his brethren in the land of plenty immediately without speaking roughly to them, and our Lord might have set up His kingdom here on earth for His people Israel, but Jesus, like Joseph, knew He had to reach their hearts and their consciences before they would know who He was.
In John 6:15, after He fed the five thousand, “Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king,” They only saw Jesus as a man who could provide unlimited temporal blessings for them. Their view of Him is prophesied in Isaiah 53:2: “there is no beauty that we should desire him."
Joseph's brethren saw only a very important man who could supply them with grain for food and who “spoke roughly” to them.
Jesus has been speaking roughly to His brethren after the flesh down through the centuries. You can’t review the sad plight of the Jews without realizing that their rejection of the Messiah has left their house desolate even as He said. Yet, although He is speaking roughly to them, He still weeps over them and longs for them to recognize Him. Their sorrow has been great, but His sorrow is greater: Isaiah 53:4-5: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5: But he was wounded for our transgressions,”
There is salvation in the Lord for all today. “The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first and also the Gentile.” The individual Jew does not have to wait for the coming kingdom to recognize Christ.
In Joseph's day there was a land within the borders of Egypt called Goshen. Shepherds lived there and it was where Joseph would soon place his brethren. He promised them: "I will nourish you." Our Lord Jesus has a place among the Gentiles where Jew and Gentile believer alike may find blessing. It’s His church. It includes all believers in Him. Jesus is the good Shepherd who laid down His life for the sheep. The believers are His sheep. He loves us and cares for us and feeds us. In Him, we are safe. He said: "I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved and shall go in and out and find pasture."
It’s a blessing when Jesus speaks roughly to the sinner and tells us “there is none righteous, no, not one,” and “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” to bring us to repentance. His love for our soul is why He speaks roughly to the unsaved person.
In Matthew 14 we have an illustration of the Lord's care for His people Israel. The disciples were in a little ship in a storm, but Jesus wasn’t with them. Their efforts to reach safety were in vain until the Master of the universe came to them walking on the water. Like Joseph’s brethren, they didn’t recognize Him. They thought He was a spirit and were afraid. But He greeted them with “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.”
Jesus reaches out to every sinner today.
If you haven’t accepted Him as your Savior,
don’t neglect so great a salvation.
Admit you are a guilty sinner
and ask Him to come into your heart.
You will be saved from eternity in hell
and spend eternity in heaven with Him.