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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 45

Wells of Living Water CommentaryWells of Living Water

Verses 1-28

Joseph Making Himself Known

Genesis 45:1-28


Chapter 44 of Genesis is introductory to 45.

1. Doing evil for good. This is discussed in Genesis 44:1-5 . Of course the sons of Jacob had not actually stolen Joseph's cup, as Joseph's steward charged. The whole idea was an effort to arouse their consciences concerning their former cruelty toward the one they now sought to honor. Charged with doing evil for good, they recoiled. Yet, when they had sold Joseph into slavery to the Ishmaelites, they had done that very thing.

Let the sinner hesitate before he boasts the "Golden Rule"; before he claims that he is the personification of honorable and just dealings; for he has too often done evil for good in his attitude toward the One of all good.

Is any evildoing so sinful as the evil done by men against the One from whom every good and perfect gift comes?

2. Boasting their own goodness and honorable dealings. In Genesis 44:7 the brothers say, "God forbid that thy servants should do according to this thing." They utterly denied any evil toward Joseph, the ruler in Egypt. They went on to announce their own honor and honesty, saying, "Behold, the money, which we found in our sacks' mouths, we brought again unto thee." They did not, however, say, "We sold our brother into the hands of Ishmael." No, the sinner seeks to hide his evil deeds, and to parade only his good deeds.

Much of the raiment which the ungodly wear is only an effort to cover their evil ways. It is Adam and Eve, over again, seeking to hide their nakedness beneath fig leaves.

3. The cup was found in Benjamin's sack. Why in Benjamin's sack, and not in that of one of the men who had done the most in his villainy against Joseph? It was because the brothers, and Judah in particular, had sworn unto Jacob that they would forfeit their lives in Benjamin's behalf, being security for him. It was because Joseph knew that nothing else would so quickly bring their sins before them. In touching Benjamin, Joseph touched them all.

Why did Christ say to the woman of Sychar, "Go, call thy husband"? It was because He would thus arouse her to a sense of her sin and shame; for he with whom she was then living was not her husband. Thus did Joseph stir up the memories of these brethren of his, to their folly.

4. The innocent often suffer for the guilty. Benjamin was altogether blameless, yet his dilemma was brought about by the sinning of the elder brethren. No one lives unto himself. All men are linked and interlinked, woven and interwoven, with all others, even as a train of cars are pinned together and pulled by one engine.

5. Sin will out. In Genesis 44:15 Joseph comes into the picture, and he is saying, "What deed is this that ye have done? wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine?" Joseph was saying, as it were, "Ye sinned against me, and sought to hide your evil deed. Ye took my many colored coat, and sprinkled it with blood as if to prove that I had been slain by wild beasts. Did ye think that God did not know?"

Yes, our Scripture is only urging, "Thou God seest me" only asking "Can any hide himself * * that I shall not see him?"

6. An honest confession. In Genesis 44:16 , Judah says, "God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants." Yes, the deep throes of memory were at work, and repentance was being generated in the hearts of these men. The sinner is well on his way to forgiveness when an honest confession of guilt comes from his heart.

The rest of the chapter carries a full record, truthfully stated, of the events which immediately followed the second trip of the sons of Jacob to Egypt. It was enough. Joseph saw that his brethren were speaking the truth, that they were truly sorry for their sins, and he, Joseph, was therefore ready to reveal himself in a gracious revelation of his real identity, and of his love toward them.


1. Joseph could not refrain himself any longer. Thus far he had covered his identity from his brethren, but now his restraint was gone.

We think of George Matheson as we read of Joseph. It was Matheson who, after the first throes of grief overwhelmed him because of his encroaching blindness and his casting off by his betrothed, cast himself on the Lord, and wrote,

"O joy that seekest me through pain,

I cannot close my heart to thee;

I trace the rainbow through the rain,

And feel the promise is not vain,

That morn shall tearless be."

Even so, Joseph was consumed with a love that would not let him go. He could not hold back from his brethren any longer. He must tell them who he was, and he must reveal unto them how he loves them. Loves them? Loves the ones who had so ruthlessly led him to the slaughter? Yes, he loved even them.

And so also does the Lord Jesus love us. Love us? We who so cruelly slew Him by our sins? Yes, He loves even us. For us He died, for us He lives, for us He will come again.

Wonderful love! The love of Joseph for his brethren reminds us of the love of God; and yet Joseph's love was as nothing compared to the love of God in Christ toward a world of evil men,

2. Joseph commanded all men to go out from him. He made the Egyptians to go out, while he made himself known to his brethren. There was something so solemn, so sacred in his love to his own, that he wanted to be alone with his beloved. Often, in the Bible, the curtain drops.

When Isaac met Rebekah the Word simply says, "And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, * * and she became his wife."

When the Lord renewed His tryst with Peter, every detail is omitted, and the Word simply says, "The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon."

After the resurrection of Christ, there is never a word about His appearing, save unto His own. To them only He showed Himself alive after His passion.

Thus it was, "There stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren."

II. "I AM JOSEPH" (Genesis 45:2-3 )

1. Joseph wept. The Egyptians heard his weeping. God heard him weep. His brethren heard him weep. What compassion! What tender love! Yes, and this was the inner heart of Joseph all the time, while he was dealing so seemingly harshly with his brethren. He had rebuked them, to be sure. He had threatened them. He had kept Simeon back from returning with the others. Yet, in it all he had loved them with a tender love.

Even so the Lord Jesus wept over Jerusalem. He wept while others were shouting His praise, and crying "Hosannah!" and saying, "Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord." The Lord, however, knew what lay ahead. Therefore He wept as He said, "The days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, * * because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation." We might have thought such dire prophecies were heartless and cruel, had we not read that Christ wept.

It was even so, as Christ said, "Behold your house is left unto you desolate." He said, simultaneously, "How often would I have gathered thy children together * * and ye would not."

2. Joseph said, "I am Joseph." The words must have fallen on startled ears. Little did his brethren know that Egypt's ruler was none other than Joseph, their brother.

Our thoughts go to Isaiah 63:1-3 . Israel sees their Messiah and Deliverer coming from Edom, "with dyed garments from Bozrah." They cry out "Who is this?" The Lord answers, "I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save." Israel cries out, "Wherefore art thou red in Thine apparel, and Thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?" He answers, "I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with Me." He seems to be saying, "I am Jesus."

So, as we think of Joseph saying, "I am Joseph," we think also of Saul, on the Damascus road, and of how, being reproved of the Lord, Saul cried, "Who art Thou, Lord?" And the Lord said, "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest."

Once more we see the Gospel in Genesis, and in Joseph. Once more we behold how the record of our Lord is found in Holy Writ.

III. THE SILENCE OF SHAME (Genesis 45:3-5 )

1. His brethren could not answer him. We need not marvel at the silence of Joseph's brethren. Their sin came up before them in such waves of distress that they were engulfed with the sense of their shame. They knew now, full well, the deeper meanings of all that had happened unto them in Egypt. They understood the strange tactics of Joseph; they saw the why of the money in their sacks' mouths; they knew why they were commanded to bring Benjamin with them into Egypt on their second visit; they comprehended the reason for Simeon being kept a hostage in Egypt. They knew it all.

We wonder just what will happen when national Israel sees the Lord Jesus coming in the skies? We read that they shall look upon Him whom they have pierced. Yes, and they will be startled when they behold those wound marks, and they will say, "What are these wounds in Thine hands?" Then the Lord will answer, "Those with which. I was wounded in the house of My friends." No marvel that they shall weep and mourn after Him. No marvel that a nation will be born in a day.

2. Joseph called them to come near to him. The words ring out with throes of compassionate love "Come near to me, I pray you." Even so has Christ been all the day long holding out His hands unto Israel, calling her to come near.

Then Joseph said, "I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt." What! Did they take and with their hands deliver him to the Ishmaelites? Did they ostensibly slay him? Then why does he love them, and weep over them, and say unto them, "Come near to me"?

Perhaps you may be just as able to explain why Jesus, whom His brethren took and with wicked hands did kill, should say, "Come unto Me."

Perhaps Joseph's words to his brethren, at this time, will help us to comprehend something more of Christ's love toward us, and the reason for that love. Joseph said, "Be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life."

Even so did God deliver Christ to the Cross. He made His soul "an offering for sin." He delivered Him up that He might be a Prince and a Saviour. Thus their sin provided them with a redeemer. Herein is the love of God made manifest.

IV. A GREAT DELIVERANCE (Genesis 45:7-8 )

1. Joseph sent of God as a preserver. If God had not preserved His people Israel, through Joseph, in that day there had been no Israel. If God had not preserved Israel during many centuries, through Jesus Christ, there had been no Israel at this present hour. What they could not do, the election has done for them. Israel is here, because God is there. Israel is alive today because Christ is risen and lives. He holds them in His hand, and they cannot perish. The believer's security in Christ Jesus is no more sure than is national Israel's. If we can change the ordinances of the sun, and of the moon, that they return not in their circuits, then may we change God's purpose for His chosen race.

2. Joseph provided a great deliverance. Behold his granaries in Egypt filled with corn! Behold His deliverance! It was, indeed, a great deliverance. So when God shall have saved Israel, they will no longer say, "The Lord liveth, that brought up the Children of Israel out of Egypt," but "The Lord liveth, that brought up the Children of Israel from * * all the lands whither He had driven them."

3. How God used the wrath of men to work out His plans. Joseph said, "It was not you that sent me hither, but God." They indeed did send him thither, but they sent him in order to be rid of him, in order that he might die. God, however, took hold of their evil intentions and used them to work out His good intentions. God sent him to be "a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt."

Just so, in the later years, Israel carried Jesus to Pontius Pilate to get rid of Him in order that He might die a death of ignominy and shame; but God sent Him to the Cross to be a Propitiation for our sins and theirs, that we might be saved from the wrath to come. What a wonderful Saviour! What a gracious God!

What now is the status of the wrath of Israel, and of their wickedness? God hath given to Christ, the One they crucified, a Name that is above every name. He hath exalted Him upon the throne on high, seating Him at His own right hand. He hath commanded that, one day, "At the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, * * and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

V. COME UNTO ME, ALL YE THAT LABOR (Genesis 45:9-10 )

Joseph said unto his brethren, "Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not." Let us look into this great message.

Once more we bow the head and worship our God. How perfectly in Joseph does He tell of His so great a love.

1. The news of salvation in Christ must be quickly told. The command of Joseph was, "Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say." The command of the Lord is, "Haste ye, go into all the world and tell." We are commanded to carry the news to every creature. Had the sons of Jacob refused to tell of Joseph to Jacob, they had been criminal, indeed. What, then, if we refuse or neglect, in any way, to tell all men of Christ?

2. The message we are to tell is of the exaltation of Christ. He is risen indeed. He is seated at the Father's right hand. He is given a Name, that at the Name of Jesus, every knee shall bow.

Let us sound forth the good news. He was dead, but He is alive forever more. He died, but He lives. He was crucified and slain, but is now exalted.

The sons of Jacob had once before told their father that Joseph was dead; now they have a new and more exultant message. To Jacob, Joseph was dead; but to Jacob he is now risen again.

3. The call was, Come down * *, tarry not. This is the call, the blessed invitation of the Gospel. "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

In the Old Testament it reads this way; "Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God." In the last chapter of the Bible it reads: "Whosoever will, let him take the Water of Life freely."

The call, however, is not a mere, "Come." It is, "Come * *, tarry not." Here is the way it runs: "Behold, now is the day of salvation." "Today if we will hear His voice." What, then, of those who delay? To such God says, "Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, * * whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow."

VI. A PROMISE OF SUCCOR (Genesis 45:10-13 )

1. "Thou shalt be near unto me." Such were the words of Joseph, and such are the words of the Lord. Ye were dead, but God hath quickened you, and made you to sit down with Him . Just so, we read, "Abide with me."

Joseph wanted his people near him. God wants us near Him. He says even now, "Come unto Me"; "Take up your abode with Me"; "Sup with Me."

"Near, so very near to God,

I could not nearer be,

For in the Person of His Son

I am as near as He."

2. "Thou, and thy children, and thy children's children." Even so the invitation reads today: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." And he believed on the Lord "with all his house." God wants to save not only the father, but also the mother and the children the whole family.

3. "There will I nourish thee." It gets better and better as we read. Think you that salvation touches only "so great a death"? Nay, salvation affords food for all. Even now we can hear God saying, "Eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness." The Lord's Supper, with the bread and the wine, tell us that the Lord not only saves us, but He strengthens us, and satisfies us with the Water from the Rock, and the Bread that came down from Heaven.

"He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: * * Thou preparest a table before me."

4. "Tell * * of all my glory." Thus did Joseph instruct his brethren. They were to relate to Jacob what they themselves had seen of the glory and might of Joseph. This was to assure Jacob that his going down into Egypt was no fool's errand.

Should we, perhaps, not preach more on the glories of our Lord? Should we not press home to the unsaved not only the message of redemption, but of the all-sufficiency of supply in Christ to meet every need of the soul which trusts in Him?

God has given us a Saviour, however. He has also given us a Keeper, and a Provider.


1. The fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh's house. Yea, all Egypt was aglow with the story of Joseph's kindness to his brethren. They heard it all, and gloried in it all. Beloved, there is nothing that will afford our Lord more glory than the message of God's great riches of grace. A sinner, brought to God, will ever be the Gospel's greatest sermon.

2. The bounties for the journey. Pharaoh told Joseph to send everything necessary for the trip of Jacob and his families. "Take you wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, provision for the way." Here is what was sent: "Ten asses laden with the good things of Egypt, and ten she asses laden with corn and bread and meat for his father by the way."

Think you that there was a scant supply? Far from it. And what is God's promise of provision for us? Here it is: "All your needs." If you say Jacob was evidently supplied with more than a poor man's needs, we answer, yes, he was supplied with needs according to the riches of Pharaoh. So also are our needs promised "According to His riches in Glory." We certainly ought to be well provided for, when we have such a bounty.

3. A fainting heart. When his sons told all to Jacob, his heart fainted, for he believed them not. Then the sons of Jacob must have led him out of doors, and said, "Behold the wagon and the bounties which Joseph hath sent." "And when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived: and Israel (Jacob) said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die."

O soul that doubts and fears, lift up thine eyes. Behold the wagons of thy God. "The heavens declare the glory of God," far more than the wagons declare Joseph's glory. Mere wagons made Jacob believe; will the heavens and their planets not make you believe?

The speech of the glory of the heavens, and of the firmament, reaches every nook and corner of the earth. "There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard." "Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world."

The earth also acclaims God's bounty and His glory, for every good and perfect gift descendeth down from above, from the Father of lights.

Behold the wagons, and believe!


Joseph's kissing his brethren as he made himself known to them broke their hearts.

"A Christian woman laboring among the moral lepers of London found a poor street walker desperately ill in a bare, cold room. With her own hands she ministered to her, changing her bed linen, procured medicines, nourishing food, a fire, and making the poor place as bright and cheery as possible. She pleadingly said: 'May I pray with you?' 'No,' said the girl; 'you don't care for me; you are doing this to get to Heaven.' Many days passed. The Christian woman was unwearily kind, the sinful girl hard and bitter. At last the Christian said, 'My dear, you are nearly well now, and I shalt not come again: but as it is my last visit I want you to let me kiss you,' and the pure lips that had known only prayers and holy words met the lips defiled by oaths and by unholy caresses, and then, the hard heart broke. That was Christ's way. 'He humbled Himself.'"

Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Genesis 45". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lwc/genesis-45.html.
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