Following the end of my engagement a friend who had also had a failed engagement gave me a copy of a Bible Study that had encouraged her: Job. As appreciative as I was for her kind gesture, I was never able to make it beyond the first verse: “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil (Job 1:1 NASB).” I could not relate and those words pierced me to my very core: “blameless, upright…turning away from evil.” I had spent the past year blaming myself for the rape. My response wasn’t to turn away from evil, but to try to “fix” it. Reading those words of Job truly amazed me. He seemed to embody the unattainable, at least for me.
Giving up on Job did not deter me from looking to the Bible for encouragement though. In fact, I zealously searched the Bible for someone who could encourage me. Someone who wasn’t perfect, but trusted God and persevered. That’s when Joseph’s story really came to life for me in a fresh new way. Joseph was not perfect. As a youth, I think he was a little cocky, spoiled, a tattle-tale, and coddled by his father as the favorite son. His father clothed him in a fine garment to display that favor and Joseph lorded his father’s favoritism and dreams of his own greatness over his brothers. In fact, he not only told his first dream to his brothers who responded in anger and hatred, but he stepped it up and relayed his second dream to not just his brothers, but his dad as well.
However, Joseph’s story takes a quick turn when his brothers, led by Judah, plot to kill him. Only one brother, Reuben, objects to these plans but instead of standing up for Joseph he secretly plans to rescue Joseph later after his brothers throw him in a pit. Joseph’s nine older brothers attack him. Nine against one is hardly a fair fight. What a shock this must have been to Joseph! Up until now his brothers were jealous, they hated him and they burned with anger toward him, but there is no record of them acting upon these emotions.
Now they suddenly and unexpectedly turn on him. They overpower him, strip him of his fancy cloak and throw him in a pit. As someone who has been overpowered, I can relate. The fear, helplessness, and vulnerability are unbearable. For me that was the moment I started pleading with my attacker and I am guessing that is the moment Joseph started pleading for mercy too, but like me his pleas were ignored. His brothers had evil intentions toward Joseph and they were not thwarted by Joseph’s pleas for mercy. After my attack, I also found myself in a pit I could not escape on my own – an emotional pit of despair.
Realizing that they only gained Joseph being out of the way by killing him, opportunity arose for more as traders passed by. Why not sell him and make money off Joseph too? He would still be out of the way and they would line their pockets with cash. They sold him to the traders passing by on their way to Egypt. Can you imagine Joseph’s reaction? I can. People who were supposed to love him, even worse, his family nonetheless, betrayed his trust. I am guessing when they stripped him of his cloak and sold him, they also stripped him of his self-worth. Betrayed. He probably faced shock and disbelief. What had just happened? Why would they do this to him? Maybe even blame. Why did he tell his brothers his dreams? Why did he trust them? How was he so blind not to see their evil intentions toward him? I am guessing while they threw Joseph into a literal pit, emotionally he was also in a pit. At rock bottom. Hopeless. How could he not have been? Joseph was seventeen years old. Young and vulnerable. Stuck somewhere between an adolescent and a man. In his most formative years.
Young Joseph is led off to Egypt in bondage and sold as a slave. He was in the home of an influential man, the captain of Pharaoh’s bodyguard and there God blessed him. God blessed him and everything he did so much his master took notice of it and promoted him to oversee everything in his household. Things are starting to look up for Joseph. I wonder if Joseph was starting to feel hopeful? Then it happens. Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce him because he is young and handsome. He is met yet again by someone with evil intentions toward him. I wonder if this encounter brought back any of the emotions of his former betrayal by his brothers? He refuses her, in fact he high tails it out of her presence, but not without being stripped of his cloak yet again by his betrayer. She snags his tunic as he runs out of the room. That must have been a little humiliating to be fleeing the house without his tunic. Both encounters ended in him being stripped of his cloak. Exposed. Vulnerable. With his garment in hand she then spreads lies that he attempted to rape her, but her screams stopped him. It’s a “He said, she said” scenario, only he’s a lowly slave and she’s the wife of a high ranking official. Who will they believe? Her.
Joseph is thrown into jail. Yet another devastating encounter of deep betrayal that ended up with Joseph in a “pit.” Stuck in jail. What a devastating and traumatic blow yet again to Joseph! Just when things were starting to look up. When he felt hopeful, he was betrayed again. Humiliated. Objectified. Made to feel worthless. However, in jail things begin to look up. God blessed him there and he found favor with the chief jailer. He is given the responsibility to oversee all the prisoners. Long gone is the confident and even cocky young man who could Lord his position over others. The finely clad young man who arrogantly boasted to his brothers of his dreams of greatness. I am assuming by now Joseph has painfully learned to be humble amidst promotions and increased responsibilities. I am guessing in prison and even in Potiphar’s house, Joseph thought frequently of his family. His home. His traumatic betrayal by his brothers. In the quiet loneliness of night did flashbacks play through his mind? Did he wrestle with hatred, bitterness and anger toward his brothers, toward Potiphar’s wife, maybe even toward Potiphar for having him thrown in prison? Did he feel helpless? Hopeless? Defeated?
In Jail Joseph interpreted dreams for two other prisoners by trusting God to reveal their meaning to him. He gave God the credit for the interpretations and asked that when one of those prisoners found himself restored into good standing in Pharaoh’s house that he show him kindness and help get him released from prison. For the first time recorded he admits to someone that he was kidnapped and wrongfully imprisoned. Maybe he said it before, but this is the first-time scripture records it and that to me is significant. I wonder if his eyes welled up with tears as he spoke those words. Did his voice crack as he recalled that difficult betrayal? Did he stare at the ground or did he glance confidently into this man’s eyes? Everything Joseph predicts comes true for these two men. One is executed and the other is restored to Pharaoh’s house. Yet, two years passed before he remembered his friend wrongfully imprisoned.
Pharaoh had two troubling dreams that he didn’t understand. He sent for magicians and wise men, but no one could interpret his dream. The cupbearer to Pharaoh, whose dream Joseph had interpreted, tells Pharaoh about Joseph. He still refers to him as a “Hebrew youth (Genesis 41:12).” Thirteen years have passed since seventeen-year-old Joseph was led off in bondage to Egypt, he is now thirty years old. Joseph spent his formative years transitioning from an adolescent to a man in bondage, enslaved and imprisoned. Joseph is rescued from the prison. He is cleaned up and brought before Pharaoh and God allowed Joseph to interpret Pharaoh’s two dreams.
Pleased with Joseph’s wisdom in interpreting the dreams which foretell of seven years of prosperity followed by seven years of famine, and with Joseph’s wise suggestions to appoint someone to oversee the collection of and storage of food during the years of prosperity for the impending years of famine. Pharaoh appoints Joseph over all the land of Egypt (Genesis 41:41). Only in regards to the throne is Pharaoh greater. Pharaoh immediately cloths Joseph in garments of fine linen and places a gold necklace around his neck. Not since Joseph’s father had someone used clothing to bestow recognition and honor in Joseph’s life. Not only has Pharaoh rescued Joseph from prison, given him fine clothing and jewelry, but he also gave Joseph an Egyptian name and an Egyptian wife.
During these seven years of plenty, so between the ages of thirty and thirty-seven, two sons are born to Joseph and his wife. His first son he names: “Manasseh” because “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household (Genesis 41:51).” His second son he names: “Ephraim” because “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction (Genesis 41:52).” I love that the names he gave his sons give us insight into his emotional journey. He has let the traumatic events of his past go. He isn’t holding onto bitterness, anger, hatred, humiliation or even fear. The Bible doesn’t tell us how he has arrived at this place of deliverance other than that he gives God the credit, but we are about to see how he got here.
Joseph’s ten brothers, excluding his full-brother who didn’t betray him, are forced by the severity of the famine to travel to Egypt to attain food to preserve the lives of their father’s and their own households. Unbeknownst to them, they bow down before their brother Joseph as they request food. They don’t recognize Joseph, but he recognized them. The young man they attacked, stripped, threw into a pit and sold into slavery is now a grown man. Dressed in Egyptian clothing. Over twenty years have passed, most of which was spent as a slave and a prisoner. No doubt he looked different. Life had changed Joseph, but had it changed his brothers?
As he converses with his brothers, he doesn’t reveal his identity. He probes to see if his father and missing brother are still alive. He tests them to see their hearts and motives. Are they still the same brothers who jumped at the chance to betray trust? He accuses them of being spies and demands that their youngest brother be brought before him. They immediately respond with “No, my lord…we are honest men… (Genesis 42:12).” Ouch! How those words must have stung Joseph’s ears. “We are honest men.” Really? Would honest men plot to murder? Would honest men betray their brother? Would honest men attack an innocent man? Would honest men lie to their father about their brother’s fate? For claiming to be honest men, they have sure done several dishonest things.
Then his brothers explain further that they are not spies, but ten brothers and that their family has twelve sons. The youngest is with their father and “…one is no longer alive (Genesis 42:13).” Wow! Did they really believe Joseph to be dead? They may have lied to their father about him being dead, but they knew the truth. Did they just assume he was dead after more than twenty years of a harsh slave’s life? Or is that what they convinced themselves to ease their consciences? Was it easier to envision him dead, than possibly at the hands of a merciless slave owner enduring harsh conditions and back-breaking labor? Granted that was not his experience, but they weren’t aware of that. Isn’t it typically human nature to imagine the worst-case scenario? No wonder Joseph is having a hard time buying their claim to be “honest men.”
He throws them in prison for three days and on the third day proposed that all but one brother return home with grain. The remaining brother would remain in prison until the youngest missing brother was brought before Joseph to prove that they were men of their word. Immediately the brothers are recorded as saying in their native tongue: “Truly we are guilty concerning our brother, because we saw the distress of his soul when he pleaded with us, yet we would not listen; therefore, this distress has come upon us (Genesis 42:21).” Reuben, the only one who objected quickly reminds his nine brothers: “Did I not tell you, ‘Do not sin against the boy’; and you would not listen? Now comes the reckoning for his blood (Genesis 42:22).” At this Joseph is forced to look away from them. Wow! They remember his pleas and distress. I imagine those cries had haunted them those twenty plus years! Had their dismissal of his pleas and his distress haunted Joseph those twenty plus years too? I know for me what haunts me most from my rape was my rapists’ dismissal of my pain, distress and pleas. Have my pleas haunted him? Was Joseph aware that Reuben did not agree with their actions, or did he assume all ten brothers had acted against him in unison?
Joseph sent them away from Egypt with food as they requested, but he kept Simeon in jail as collateral, demanding that they return with their youngest brother to prove they were not spies and honest men. Simeon is an interesting choice. He is not the oldest. Reuben is, but Reuben opposed his brothers’ actions against Joseph. So, Joseph kept his eldest brother who conspired against him in prison. Unbeknownst to them, he also returns their money they used to pay for the food. When they arrived home with the food, but missing a brother, they had some explaining to do to their father. Then they discovered the returned money in their bags. Obviously, their father is not happy. They had been accused of being spies, Simeon had been left behind as collateral, Joseph was dead. Now they ask to take their youngest brother, Benjamin, father’s new favorite son since Joseph’s “death.” Jacob refused to allow them to return to Egypt with his precious Benjamin.
Reuben spoke up. The only one who originally opposed his brothers’ actions toward Joseph. “You may put my two sons to death if I do not bring him back to you; put him in my care, and I will return him to you (Genesis 42:37).” Wow, that is an intense offer! Kill my sons if I don’t bring back your son? One problem, it just so happens that Reuben’s two sons are Jacob’s grandsons. Would Jacob really be able to kill his own grandsons if Reuben didn’t return with Benjamin? Would he even want to? That would be a pretty awful act to live with. Plus, it would mean the loss of three men from his family. While a sacrificial and bold offer, it still seems like a lose-lose scenario.
What do the nine brother do? These “honest men” don’t keep their word. Their father has denied their request to return to Egypt with Benjamin, so they remain in their homeland of Canaan. They have the food they sought in Egypt. Don’t forget Simeon is sitting in Jail in Egypt. What was Simeon thinking during this time? I imagine he was doing some serious soul searching. He knew the evil plans they conspired against Joseph. He had possibly been haunted by the memory of his actions against Joseph. Was he haunted by his brothers’ actions toward Joseph? Did he fear they would betray him too and not return for him? They had what they wanted, food, did they really need to return for him? I bet as the days wore on, as the appropriate time had passed for them to travel back to Canaan, get Benjamin, and return to Egypt, fear set in. Had his brothers betrayed him too? Did they leave him to rot in prison? Did he think: “We were twelve brothers. The youngest is with our father, one is no longer alive and one was left for dead in prison.” Did hopelessness and despair set in for Simeon?
What was Joseph thinking? The appropriate time had passed, but Simeon is still sitting in prison. Did the sting of his betrayal become a fresh wound again as he feared they had betrayed yet another brother? Did he fear for his brother Benjamin? If they betrayed two, why not Benjamin as well? Did Joseph empathize with Simeon in jail or did he feel some sense that justice was being administered? I would imagine Joseph had many sleepless nights as he waited for his ten brothers to return. After all, he had finally arrived at the point where God had made him forget all his troubles and his father’s household (Genesis 41:51 NASB). Then who showed up in front of him? The members of his father’s household who betrayed him.
I was relieved when my rapist graduated from college. Constantly running into someone who had betrayed my trust and hurt me pushed me to my breaking point. When I began sharing my experiences present day, I got the question: does he still live here in town? I immediately said “No,” but then I realized I don’t know, maybe. Just to be sure I found him on social media. There he was fifteen years after I had last seen him, I have to admit seeing his face was difficult. I can’t imagine if one day he just walked up to me out of the blue and I had to face him, but that is exactly what happened to Joseph.
I can imagine Joseph was not only re-facing past offenses, but uncovering new wounds. He hadn’t seen his betrayers in over twenty years and then he came face to face with them. Not only that, he came face to face with them as the most powerful man in the land aside from Pharaoh! Did the thought cross his mind to just say the words: “Execute them!” Or maybe even the bittersweet taste of revenge: “You are spies! Imprison them!” Or “You are spies! Enslave them!” All he had to do was speak the words, but he didn’t. He didn’t exact his revenge. Had revenge crossed his mind over these twenty plus years? I know revenge crossed my mind! I wanted my rapist to suffer. Did Joseph ever long for his brothers to suffer too? Maybe. It doesn’t say.
Finally, back in Canaan his family runs out of food again. They have no choice; their only option is to starve or return to Egypt. Jacob tells his nine sons to return. This time Judah speaks up. Remember Judah? The instigator. The organizer of their betrayal against Joseph. Yes, that brother!
‘Send the lad with me and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, we as well as you and our little ones. 9 I myself will be surety for him; you may hold me responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame before you forever. 10 For if we had not delayed, surely by now we could have returned twice (Genesis 43:8-10 NASB).’
Judah is taking sole responsibility to return Benjamin home safely to his father Jacob. Judah has witnessed his father’s devastation firsthand these past twenty-plus years since Joseph’s supposed death. Jacob was inconsolable after Joseph’s supposed death and he claimed it would kill him if he lost Benjamin too (Genesis 42: 38 NASB). Judah was willing to take that responsibility upon himself to guarantee to his father that he would not suffer that kind of pain nor fate. This is a different Judah than the Judah who betrayed his father’s favorite some twenty-plus years ago.
The ten brothers return to Egypt. Joseph sees Benjamin with them and immediately commands that they be brought to his personal home for a meal. The brothers fear the worst and assume they are going to be enslaved for the returned money. Kind of ironic, huh? So, they speak with the head servant in Joseph’s house. They explain the situation, that the money was returned unbeknownst to them and that they have returned with the money and additional money to buy food again. The servant gave the brothers’ God credit for the money being returned and assured them he received their payment the first time for food. That means most likely Joseph personally paid for their food the first time. Isn’t it interesting that a man who used to be a slave now has servants of his own? I would imagine Joseph was the best master they ever served.
Joseph arrives home and greets the brothers. He questioned the ten brothers again about their father’s welfare and then he turned to the youngest and asked if this was the missing brother to whom they referred on their first trip. When the brothers respond affirmatively Joseph spoke a blessing over him: “May God be gracious to you, my son (Genesis 42:29 NASB).” As he uttered this blessing he is overcome with emotion and he rushed out of the room to cry in solitude. This youngest brother, Benjamin, was not involved in Joseph’s betrayal. Benjamin is also Joseph’s only full-brother. The other ten brothers are half-brothers from three different wives of Jacob (he had four total). Not only did they share a mother, but that mother had passed away during Benjamin’s birth. Joseph was about seven years old, so the only other person he had left in the world that tied him to his mother was his brother Benjamin.
Joseph regained his composure and the feasts began. Everyone is segregated at the feast. Joseph sits alone due to his high position; the Egyptians sit at a table and the foreign group of brothers sit at a table (MacArthur Study Bible 79). Joseph arranged the brothers in order of birth, but he gave the youngest, Benjamin, five times the amount of the other ten brothers. I think this was an outpouring of Joseph’s goodwill toward his brother and his excitement over their reunion, but I also think he was testing his ten other brothers again. Would they burn with hatred, anger and jealousy at their youngest brother being shown favoritism as they had toward Joseph all those years before? However, there is no mention of such emotions. Apparently, the brothers have changed.
Joseph has one last test in store for his brothers to get a complete picture of the state of their hearts. He sent the brothers away again with food, the money returned to their sacks, but in Benjamin’s sack is also placed Joseph’s silver cup. The brothers are sent off, but just when they reach outside the city, Joseph sent his servant after the brothers. The brothers are so confident they have done nothing wrong, they proclaim that if anything is found in someone’s sack, that person should die and the rest of them should be enslaved. Low and behold, the cup is found in Benjamin’s sack. At this, the brothers tear their cloths and all the brothers return to Joseph.
The brothers appear again before Joseph and Judah took the initiative to speak to Joseph. He didn’t try to make excuses, he just accepted that they should all be made slaves. Joseph protests, that only the guilty party should be enslaved, not all the brothers. Judah immediately apologized, but asked to explain why they cannot leave Benjamin enslaved in Egypt. Judah explained that Benjamin’s mother bore his father two sons. The other son was “…torn in pieces… (Genesis44:28 NASB)” and only Benjamin remained. He explained that their father initially denied their request to bring Benjamin back, but allowed it only after Judah took sole responsibility for his well-being.
Furthermore, his father told them if anything happened to Benjamin it would kill him. Judah begged Joseph not to allow such an evil to befall their father, nor for them to have to endure seeing such an evil befall their father. Judah offered himself to Joseph in Benjamin’s place. Wow! The instigator who rallied the brothers and plotted to kill Joseph is now willing to give up everything to spare Joseph’s younger brother and their father from pain. Judah has clearly had a change of heart.
Not only that, but Judah said he could not bear to see the evil that would befall his father if he returned without Benjamin. Why? Because he had already seen it when they returned without Joseph. He had to live with an inconsolable father who was devastated by Joseph’s “death” these past twenty plus years whilst knowing that he was to blame for his father’s intense pain. I wonder if it ever crossed his mind before he plotted to kill Joseph how it would devastate his father? I am guessing based on his response here, that he hadn’t given it thought, but now knowing the depth to which his father would suffer caused him to plead for mercy for Benjamin and punishment for himself.
I just want to interject with a side note here. Jesus’ lineage includes one of these twelve brothers. One of these twelve is a relative of King David, a man after God’s own heart. At first glance would you guess it would be our hero Joseph? It’s not. I’ll give you a clue, in Revelation 5:5 we are told: “Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals (NIV).’” Jesus is the lion of Judah. The only one worthy to break the seals and open the book of life. In the genealogy of Jesus listed in Matthew 1, we read that Judah is in the line of Christ. Isn’t that just like Christ to use someone who you wouldn’t expect at first glance? To bring redemption through Judah’s lineage, not our hero Joseph.
At this, Joseph cannot hold the truth back any longer. He commanded everyone to leave except his brothers. Then he revealed his true identity to his brothers. When he revealed himself to them it says “He wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard of it (Genesis 45:2 NASB).” He told them: “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive? (Genesis 42:3 NASB).” All they could do was stand in silent disbelief. What must have been going through their minds? Joseph’s response to them is too great to paraphrase so here it is in its entirety:
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me.” And they came closer. And he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. 7 God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. 8 Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 9 Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, “God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. 10 You shall live in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children and your flocks and your herds and all that you have. 11 There I will also provide for you, for there are still five years of famine to come, and you and your household and all that you have would be impoverished.”’ 12 Behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth which is speaking to you. 13 Now you must tell my father of all my splendor in Egypt, and all that you have seen; and you must hurry and bring my father down here.” 14 Then he fell on his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. 15 He kissed all his brothers and wept on them, and afterward his brothers talked with him. (Genesis 45:4-15 NASB)
Joseph’s response to his brothers and his explanation of all they did to him is not filled with bitterness, anger nor hatred. On the contrary, he believed it was God’s will. God turned a seemingly desperate situation around and exceedingly blessed Joseph. Joseph had some difficult experiences, but in the end God was faithful to Joseph. God used Joseph to save the lives of innumerable people, not just his family. Indeed, Joseph’s dreams had come true. The dreams that had caused his brothers to burn with anger, hatred and jealousy. The dreams which his father initially laughed at. Joseph went so far as to give God credit for his life in Egypt, not the fact that his brothers betrayed him, kidnapped him and sold him to traders for a life of slavery. He immediately invited them to bring their entire families to join him in Egypt and share in his wealth and abundance.
When Pharaoh heard that his second in command had been reunited with his brothers he added his blessing to the situation too. He gave them wagons to transport their wives, children and elderly father. He told them the best of the land shall be theirs. Joseph sent them off with provisions for their journey, new cloths, and to Benjamin he gave “…three hundred pieces of silver and five changes of garments (Genesis 45:22 NASB).” He also sent “ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and sustenance for his father on the journey (Genesis 45:23 NASB).”
Joseph’s family settled in the land of Goshen in Egypt. Five of Joseph’s brothers are brought before Pharaoh and he asked their occupations. They were shepherds, so Pharaoh told them to settle in the best of the land and to also tend some of his own flocks. Joseph also brought his father before Pharaoh and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. Joseph’s family settled in the land and all is well.
Time passed, and Joseph’s father dies. Immediately his brothers were afraid. Surely Joseph has just delayed his vengeance upon them until their father’s passing so as not to upset their father. Therefore, they remind Joseph of a plea their father had made: “Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father (Genesis 50:17 NASB).” Then they fell before Joseph and declared themselves his servants. Joseph’s response is amazing:
Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. 21 So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them (Genesis 50: 19-21 NASB).
Joseph had sincerely and honestly forgiven his brothers! He didn’t hold a grudge against them. His kindness toward them had not been a farce nor a plot to eventually exact revenge at the opportune time when his father was gone. Joseph told his brothers to not fear. He spoke kindly to them and comforted them.
Can you imagine speaking kindly to someone, comforting them and telling them not to fear when they confessed that what they did to you was wrong? Especially if that person had plotted to kill you, kidnapped you and sold you as a slave? Can you imagine speaking kindly to someone who had raped you? Telling them not to be afraid? Telling them you are not God, it is not your place to judge them? Comforting your rapist? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t Joseph’s brothers be comforting him?
Joseph was basically given the opportunity by his brothers for revenge: “We are your servants (Genesis 50:18 NASB).” They were submitting to him, but he had already forgiven them. How could he forgive them again for something he had already forgiven? He had submitted it to God. He knew they had intended evil against him, but the God of the universe can transform even the most desolate circumstances.
God is in the business of redemption. In Isaiah 61:1-7 we learn that God heals the brokenhearted, proclaims freedom to captives, releases people from darkness and the prisons they find themselves in literally and figuratively, saves those who have been devastated by sinful acts of generations, makes beauty from ashes, rebuilds the ruins of our lives that have long laid in devastation, comforts those who mourn, making them joyful, redeems what was regarded as dead and makes them strong “oaks of righteousness…for the display of his splendor.”
Joseph’s story challenged me! I could relate to his pain, devastation, betrayal and heartbreak. Yet instead of succumbing to bitterness, anger, and hatred he chose forgiveness. Instead of exacting revenge, he chose mercy. Was I capable of this? Joseph’s story challenged me to consider forgiving my rapist. Was I even capable of forgiving him?