All of Israel/Jacob’s sons go to Egypt to escape famine in their land. Joseph is a leader in Egypt and forgives his brothers and allows them to settle in Egypt even though,years earlier, his brothers sold him into slavery.
Why it matters
This is the beginning of the story of Israel and how God used all of them to tell us His law and show us how much He loves all of us.
Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.Genesis 45:3
Why it matters to you
Joseph forgave his brothers even though they sold him into slavery, teaching us that we also need to forgive the unforgivable and know that vengeance is God’s. God is perfect and His punishment of sin is perfect.
Joseph in the Bible
Jacob settled in his homeland, Canaan along with his wives and twelve sons. The youngest was Joseph and he was Jacob’s favorite. Because of that, there was jealousy and outright hatred among his brothers, who plotted to kill him. Joseph had told them of a dream he had in which the brothers would bow down to him.
One day, Jacob asked Joseph to go out and find out what his brothers were doing. That was a fateful decision. Joseph gladly went, but the result was a major turning point, not only for Joseph, but for what would become the nation of Israel.
The brothers saw him coming. Joseph was wearing a beautiful coat that his father had given him. Rather than kill him, they took the coat and decided to throw him into a pit and just let him die. But a caravan was coming towards them, so they made another decision.
They decided to sell him as a slave to the Ishmaelite traders who were taking spices, balm and myrrh to Egypt. They collected twenty pieces of silver for their brother. Later the brothers would kill a goat, drench Joseph’s coat in blood and present it to their father, saying Joseph had been killed by an animal.
Joseph was sold into slavery to a man named Potiphar, a member of the Pharaoh’s staff, the captain of the palace guard. Joseph found favor with Potiphar, and because of that, the Lord blessed him and brought prosperity to his household. Joseph was running the business, so to speak, and soon caught the eye of Potiphar’s wife, who tried to seduce him. Loyal to his master, Joseph rejected her advances. She kept it up, day after day. One day she grabbed him and pulled off his shirt. She ran away and claimed that he had tried to rape her. Potiphar was furious, of course, and had Joseph thrown into prison.
Joseph unfairly imprisoned
Joseph had no recourse. Shortly after, the Pharaoh’s cup bearer was imprisoned for an insulting remark. One night the cup bearer and a baker had bad dreams. Noticing their distressed expressions, Joseph asked them to tell him the dreams. He interpreted what they meant. Both the cup bearer and baker were called back to the palace and Joseph asked the cup bearer to remember him. It was some time before the cup bearer remembered his promise.
When the Pharaoh had a bad dream, the cup bearer told of Joseph, who was released from prison and sent to the palace. His interpretation of the Pharaoh’s dream was pleasing to the ruler, who put him on the staff. Soon, because of his intelligence and service to Pharoah, Joseph was given a place of high authority, virtually running the kingdom.
Famine breaks out in Canaan
Meanwhile, famine came to Jacob’s homeland. The brothers knew there was abundance in Egypt, so they set out to buy food. When they arrived Joseph recognized them immediately, but they did not recognize him. After all, they would not expect him to be running the country. Joseph put his brothers to the test, but did reveal himself to them.
Because of the famine, people came to Egypt from Canaan, including Jacob. The Hebrews immigrants at first, but as their numbers grew, the Pharaoh feared they would become a burden. Eventually, Israel was enslaved by the Egyptians. Then, an amazing sequence of events took place some 400 years later, as God moved to bring them out of bondage.
God uses evil for good
God works his plan through human interaction. Men and women may do an evil thing, but God can use that action for good. Joseph’s story is all about that amazing turnabout. It is a foreshadowing of the life of Jesus the Messiah, who was arrested, tortured and killed for doing no wrong. Yet God used that horrible event to save mankind.
What you may not know
Having all of the Israelites in bondage in Egypt allows all of Israel to hear God’s law and commandments in the wilderness once God frees them their bondage in Egypt.