Joseph Sees His Family Again
God helped Joseph interpret a dream for Pharaoh. The dream meant that there would be seven good years when crops would grow very well. After that there would be seven bad years of famine when nothing would grow.
Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of storing up grain for Egypt to use during the coming famine. He made Joseph second-in- command in all of Egypt.
During the next seven years Joseph traveled all over Egypt, making sure that every city stored up grain. Then the famine came. The crops did not grow. Joseph opened up the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians. The famine spread to all the countries around Egypt. People from many countries came to buy grain from Joseph.
Joseph’s father and brothers and their families did not have enough food to eat either. Joseph’s father, Jacob, told his sons, “I have heard that you can buy grain in Egypt. Go to Egypt and buy some for us, so that we won’t die.”
So Jacob sent his ten oldest sons to Egypt to buy grain. He did not send his son Benjamin. Joseph and Benjamin were Jacob’s two youngest sons. They were born to him in his old age. Rachel was the mother of Joseph and Benjamin. And Rachel was Jacob’s favorite wife. Jacob thought Joseph was dead. He thought Benjamin was the only one of Rachel’s sons who was still alive. He did not want anything bad to happen to Benjamin, so he did not send Benjamin to Egypt.
When Joseph’s ten brothers got to Egypt they went to Joseph to buy grain. They had to bow down to Joseph. As soon as Joseph saw his brothers he recognized them. They did not recognize Joseph however. When they sold him to be a slave he was seventeen years old. Now it was more than twenty years later. Joseph dressed like an Egyptian. He spoke the Egyptian language.
Joseph remembered the dreams he had had when he was a boy. Joseph had dreamed that his brothers would bow down to him. Now they were doing that.
Joseph was very glad to see his brothers. But he did not tell them who he was. His brothers were liars. Maybe if Joseph told them who he was, they would not tell their father that Joseph was alive. They might be afraid to tell their father the truth and make him angry. Then Joseph would never see his father again. So Joseph pretended that he didn’t know who his brothers were.
Joseph said to his brothers, “You are spies! You came to Egypt see where our land is not unprotected.”
spy (spies) (n)
1. The first time Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt they did not take Benjamin along. Why?
2. Did Joseph’s brothers recognize him the first time they saw him?
3. When his brothers bowed down to him, what did Joseph remember?
4. When Joseph first saw his brothers, he did not tell them who he was. Why?
Joseph recognized his brothers in Egypt, but they did not recognize him. They thought he was dead. He accused them of being spies.
“No, sir,” they answered. “We only came to buy food. We are honest men. We are all brothers. Our father had 12 sons. One brother is dead and the youngest is with our father now.
Joseph said to them, “You are spies! This is how you can prove that you are honest men. You must bring your youngest brother back to me. Let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain to your family. But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that you can prove you are telling the truth. Then I will let you live.”
Simeon stayed in prison while the other nine brothers returned to their father. When Jacob heard what had happened he said, “You have taken my sons from me. Joseph is dead. Simeon is in prison. And now you want to take Benjamin. I will not let Benjamin go to Egypt with you.”
After awhile Jacob’s family had eaten all of the grain that they had brought from Egypt. They had nothing left to eat. Jacob told his sons to go back to Egypt and buy some more food.
One of his sons, Judah, told him, “The man told us we could not buy grain if our brother was not with us. If you send our brother with us, we will go to Egypt and buy food. But if you will not send him, we will not go. I will guarantee his safety.
So Jacob sent the nine brothers and Benjamin back to Egypt to buy grain.
Joseph was very glad to see his brother Benjamin. He gave a feast for his brothers. Finally Joseph told his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?”
His brothers did not know what to say. They were very afraid of Joseph. They were afraid he would try to punish them for the terrible things that they had done to him.
Then Joseph said, “Do not be angry at yourselves for selling me to be a slave here. There have already been two years of famine. There will be five more years. God sent me ahead of you to save your lives. God has been very good to me and made me a rich and important man. Now I want you to go back home and bring my father here so that I can see him again.”
When Pharaoh heard Joseph’s good news he told Joseph’s brothers to bring all of their families to Egypt. He told him, “I will give the best of the land of Egypt to you. You do not need to bring your belongings. You will have the best of all Egypt.”
So Joseph’s family came to live in Egypt. Joseph took care of them and gave them many good things. He was not angry with his brothers. He forgave them for all of the bad things they had done to him.
5. How did Joseph say his brothers could prove they weren’t spies?
6. Who stayed in prison while the other brothers went home?
7. After all of the years Joseph had lived in Egypt, was he angry at his brothers for selling him to be a slave?
8. Who did Joseph say had sent him to Egypt? Why?
To Think About
1. Joseph trusted God. God allowed* bad things to happen to Joseph, but He made the bad things work together to bring good things to Joseph. If Joseph had not been sold to be a slave in Egypt, he could not have saved the lives of his family. If he had not been put in prison, the cupbearer would not have known that he could interpret dreams. God rewarded Joseph, but Joseph had to trust God and wait for many years until he could see the good in God’s plan.
2. Joseph’s brothers had treated him very badly, but he forgave them. When his brothers and their families came to Egypt they learned to love each other again. Can you love someone if you will not forgive him? Do you know of some friends or family members that are separated because someone will not forgive?