Joseph made ruler of Egypt – Genesis 41-45

After interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams, Joseph gave the king a survival plan for the next 14 years. Joseph suggested:

  • Pharaoh should find an intelligent man and put him in charge of the entire land of Egypt.
  • He should appoint supervisors over the land and let them collect one-fifth of all the crops during the first seven good years.
  • The supervisors should bring all the food produced to the storehouses.

Joseph’s suggestions were well-received by Pharaoh. Pharaoh said to Joseph: “Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent as you are.” Pharaoh appointed Joseph to be in charge of the court, and all the Egyptians would take orders from Joseph, his rank was probably vizier. Only Pharaoh would have higher rank than Joseph. Pharaoh removed his signet ring and placed it on Joseph’s finger. Joseph was hung a gold chain around his neck. Pharaoh said to Joseph, “No one will lift a hand or foot in the entire land of Egypt without your approval.”

Joseph first shaved and properly clothed in front of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.

Joseph first shaved and properly clothed in front of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.

Joseph was given a new Egyptian name Zaphenath-paneah (撒發那忒巴內亞,meaning God speaks and lives), and his wife Asenath(亞西納,daughter of Potiphera and priest of On). He was thirty years old.

Joseph then named his elder son Manasseh(瑪拿西), for he said “God has made me forget all my troubles and everyone in my father’s family.” And his second son Ephraim(以法蓮), for he said “God has made me fruitful in this land of my grief.”

When famine struck the land of Egypt as Joseph predicted, he opened up the storehouses and distributed grain to the people.

Joseph met his brothers in Egypt

Jacob and his sons heard grains were available in Egypt, for famine was in the land of Canaan as well. Jacob was fond of the youngest brother Benjamin because that was the son of his beloved wife Rachel. Therefore Jacob did not allow Benjamin to travel with them.

When they arrived Egypt, Joseph recognized his brothers but he decided to hide his identity. Joseph told the brothers that they were spies, coming to Egypt to see how vulnerable the land has now become. Joseph put the brothers in prison for three days, and said:

“I am a God-fearing man. If you do as I say, you will live. If you really are honest men, choose one of your brothers to remain in prison. The rest of you may go home with grain for your starving families. But you must bring your youngest brother back to me. This will prove that you are telling the truth, and you will not die.” 我 是 敬 畏   神 的 、 你 們 照 我 的 話 行 、 就 可 以 存 活 .你 們 如 果 是 誠 實 人 、 可 以 留 你 們 中 間 的 一 個 人 囚 在 監 裡 、 但 你 們 可 以 帶 著 糧 食 回 去 、 救 你 們 家 裡 的 饑 荒 .把 你 們 的 小 兄 弟 帶 到 我 這 裡 來 、 如 此 、 你 們 的 話 便 有 證 據 、 你 們 也 不 至 於 死 . 他 們 就 照 樣 而 行 。- Genesis 42:17-20

Joseph’s brother Reuben said, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy. But you wouldn’t listen and now we have to answer for his blood.” He thought they were being punished by God for what they had done to Joseph. Selling Joseph into slavery amounted to death in their minds for they never expected to see Joseph again.

Joseph’s brothers returns to Egypt

As famine continued to ravage the land, the brothers decided whether or not to return to Egypt to buy more grains. But they were afraid of the governor of Egypt as he had imprisoned Simeon and requested to send their youngest brother Benjamin to show him that they were not lying. Judah accepted full responsibility for Benjamin’s safety. But at this point, they could not see God’s overall plan of sending them to Egypt was to reunite with Joseph. Jacob was in pain, but he said to Judah,

“May God the Almighty give you mercy as you go before the man, so that he will release Simeon and let Benjamin return. But if I must lose my children, so be it.” 但 願 全 能 的   神 使 你 們 在 那 人 面 前 蒙 憐 憫 、 釋 放 你 們 的 那 弟 兄 和 便 雅 憫 回 來 . 我 若 喪 了 兒 子 、 就 喪 了 罷 。- Genesis 43:14

Joseph welcomed his brothers to enjoy a feast with him at the palace, but when he saw his youngest brother Benjamin, he went to his room and overcome with emotion where he broke down and wept. As a Hebrew, Joseph could not eat with Egyptians, as Egyptians refused to eat with them.

Benjamin accused to have stolen Joseph’s silver cup

Joseph instructed his palace manager to chase over his brothers after they were set off to Canaan. The manager told the brothers: “Why have you repaid my kindness with such evil? Why have you stolen my master’s cup which uses to predict the future? What a wicked thing you have done!”

Judah answered, “How can we prove our innocence? God is punishing our sins.” He told Joseph that he was willing to work as slaves together with his young brother Benjamin because Jacob (Israel) ordered them to bring Benjamin back home safely. But Joseph ordered only the one who stole the silver cup would be his slave, who was Benjamin.

Joseph revealed his identity

Judah gave a long speech to defend against his brother Benjamin, as he promised Jacob to protect Benjamin, showing great courage in keeping his promise. Judah was the brother who stepped forward to sell Joseph into slavery, but now he was the one who stepped forward to take up Benjamin’s punishment.  Joseph graciously forgave his brothers. Here’s the most touching part when Joseph revealed his identity:

“I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery into Egypt. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.” God has made me master of Egypt. So ask my father Jacob to come down immediately.”

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