Attention!
Partner with StudyLight.org as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Genesis 45

Verses 1-3

Joseph Makes Himself Known

Judah concluded his moving speech without any interruption from Joseph’s side. Then the time has come for Joseph for which he waited so long. After the striking proof of God’s work of grace in the hearts of the brothers that came out of Judah’s mouth, Joseph can no longer control himself and makes himself known to his brothers.

Nothing but his announcement to them can satisfy his heart. He wants them to know him. He wants conscious fellowship with them based on the just-proven work of grace. Nothing else can also give rest to the hearts of the brothers.

This is also the way in which God acts with the sinner and to which He wants to lead him: that the Lord Jesus can make Himself known to him. This is also the way in which God deals with His own: He wants them to see none but Jesus alone (Matthew 17:6-Ruth :). This is an announcement for each soul individually. No one else can be present when that happens.

Again we read that Joseph weeps, even weeps loudly, so everyone hears it. The outcome of the work that has been done in the brothers by the wisdom with which he has treated them, does not leave him unmoved. He is deeply involved in this work. When he then sees what the effect is, he lets his emotions run free. We can be sure that this is an example of the Lord Jesus’ involvement in every work of conversion and repentance in a human being, whether unbelieving or believing.

The announcement is so far-reaching for the brothers that they are dismayed. Similarly, the Lord Jesus reveals Himself to Saul, to whom He says, “I am Jesus.” Saul is also overwhelmed there and thrown to the ground by the realization that the One Whom he has declared dead, still lives (Acts 9:4-Deuteronomy :).

Verses 4-15

Joseph Opens His Heart

The announcement “I am Joseph” fills the brothers’ hearts with fear and trembling. Here they see their brother, who they thought was dead, whom they hated, rejected and basically murdered. He does not live alone, but he is lord over everything. Here too he is a picture of the Lord Jesus (Hebrews 2:8).

Joseph opens his heart in goodness and love for the brothers. He tells them that their evil deeds have led him to that place! Their rejection has been the means to give him that position. God has so governed it. There is no vengefulness at all with him.

The certainty that the will of God, not of mankind, governs everything, will keep us from vengefulness or bitterness and, on the contrary, will make us ready for reconciliation. The spiritual man can recognize the hand of God in all events and is therefore able to forgive him who wrongs him.

That in no way reduces the evil they have done. But “the LORD is greater than all the gods; indeed, it was proven when they dealt proudly against the people” (Exodus 18:11). God has used what man meant to be evil for good. This is also the case with the Lord Jesus, Who was delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God on the one hand and killed by the hands of murderers on the other (Acts 2:23).

Here we see what will remain a mystery for man forever. On the one hand we see the responsibility of the human being, which can and will be fully charged to him. On the other hand, we see the counsel of God, in which He gives a place to what man does in evil, without declaring man less accountable to it.

The joy that fills Joseph’s heart is the joy of the shepherd who has found his lost sheep (Luke 15:6). The brothers were given the joyful task of going to get their father and telling him “of all my splendor in Egypt, and all that you have seen”. That is also a task for us: to tell God the Father all we have seen of the glory of the Lord Jesus.

Joseph rewards his brothers good for evil (Matthew 5:44). He takes care of them and their families for the remaining five years of famine. Above all, they may be close to him.

Joseph points out that they see and hear him. They did not see and hear a vengeful brother, but one who showers them with blessings and promises them many more. He does everything to take away their fear. Their eyes see his glory, their ears hear his promises, their hearts feel his warm love when he falls around their necks and kisses them warmly. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). Of his former hardness nothing is noticeable anymore.

When they are so overwhelmed by all his proofs of love and goodness, their tongues come loose. That’s how it works with us. A heart overwhelmed by the love of the Lord Jesus cannot remain silent. Where the heart is full, the mouth of it runs over, both toward God to honor Him and toward the people to tell them what He has done to our souls.

Verses 16-24

Pharaoh Commands to Bring Jacob

To be with Joseph, everything must be given up. They don’t have to regret that (Genesis 45:20). It is said by Pharaoh, who is a picture of God here, that he will give them the best of the land of Egypt. Earlier they came to Joseph with a bit of the best of the land of Canaan (Genesis 43:11), but through Joseph they get the best of Egypt. With such a promise the Lord Jesus has encouraged His disciples and with it He also encourages us (Mark 10:29-Amos :).

They don’t just get a land. Joseph, a picture of the Lord Jesus, also gives them everything they need to get there. Wagons, on which they can drive, can be seen as a picture of the Holy Spirit Who gives the believers power and guidance on the journey; they do not have to go by their own power. Food can be seen as a picture of the Word of God that the believers may eat and that gives them strength for the journey. Clothes can be seen as a picture of Christ with whom the believers are clothed and Who through them becomes visible in the world (Galatians 3:27).

Thus the brothers are sent away by Joseph, with the final admonition: “Do not quarrel on the journey.” It is very easy for them to blame each other during the journey, when they discuss their experiences with each other, about their performance in their entire treatment of Joseph. One may point out that he said it in advance (Genesis 42:22), another may say that he did not throw Joseph himself into the well and so on. But Joseph has forgiven them all, so they should not blame each other.

We too desperately need the exhortation not to quarrel. Despite everything the Lord Jesus has given us, we all forget that exhortation so every now and then. The disciples also quarreled once about who is the most important one and that, while the Lord Jesus is busy with His suffering and talking about it with them (Luke 22:24).

Verses 25-28

Joseph Is Still Alive!

When Jacob sees his son’s blood-baptized tunic, there is no doubt in his mind: his son has been torn apart by a wild animal (Genesis 37:33). Now that he is told that Joseph is still alive, he does not believe it. We believe bad news rather than good news, we believe the lie rather than the truth. Only through the work of grace do we believe the truth.

Jacob’s “was stunned” or “his heart grew numb” – which is the literal translation – when his sons tell him that Joseph is still alive. Life comes back to him after they have “told him all the words of Joseph that he had spoken to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him”. In this we can see a picture of the living power of the Word of God (the words of Joseph) and the Holy Spirit (the wagons that Joseph sent).

Now Jacob is called Israel, for his power of mind is coming back. Jacob does not speak of Joseph’s glory, but of the fact that he is still alive. That’s enough, that’s what it’s all about. The only thing he wants is to see him. After that, he can die peacefully.

The Lord Jesus has said that only when someone is born again, born of water and Spirit, can he see and enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3; John 3:5). Water is a picture of the Word of God (Ephesians 5:26). This means that only the Word of God, under the activity of the Holy Spirit, is capable of creating new life. That is, in the picture, what revives Jacob’s numb heart.

When our hearts are numb, new life only comes when we start reading God’s Word again. In it we hear the words of the true Joseph, the Lord Jesus. Through the Holy Spirit, Who dwells in us, these words start to live for us.

Copyright Statement
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
No part of the publications may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.
Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Genesis 45". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/genesis-45.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.