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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 45

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Genesis 45:0


Joseph Deals Kindly With His BrothersJoseph Revealed to His BrothersJoseph Makes Himself Known to His BrothersJoseph Tells His Brothers Who He IsJoseph Makes Himself Known
Genesis 45:1-3Genesis 45:1-15Genesis 45:1-3Genesis 45:1-8Genesis 45:1-2
Genesis 45:3-8
Genesis 45:4-15 Genesis 45:4-15
Genesis 45:9-11Genesis 45:9-13
Genesis 45:12-13
Genesis 45:14-15Genesis 45:14-15
Pharaoh's Invitation
Genesis 45:16-20Genesis 45:16-20Genesis 45:16-20Genesis 45:16-20Genesis 45:16-20
The Return to Canaan
Genesis 45:21-23Genesis 45:21-24Genesis 45:21-24Genesis 45:21-24Genesis 45:21-24
Genesis 45:24-28
Genesis 45:25-28Genesis 45:25-28Genesis 45:25-26Genesis 45:25-28
Genesis 45:27-28

READING CYCLE THREE (see Guide to Good Bible Reading)


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.


A. In Gen. 42-44, Joseph tested his brothers to see if their attitude of manipulation, particularly toward the sons of Rachel, had changed. This was primarily shown through their actions related to Benjamin.

B. Genesis 45:0 and 46 deal with the closing section of Joseph's rise to supremacy and the fulfillment of God's plan for the physical deliverance of Jacob and the covenant family during the seven years of famine.

C. Genesis 45:5-9, is strikingly relevant as we see God's hand so evident in the life of Joseph in what would seem to be tragic circumstances. If we could only learn this truth in our lives, what a difference it would make. Nothing just happens to God's children (See Hannah Whithall Smith's The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life).

Verses 1-3

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Genesis 45:1-3 1Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried, "Have everyone go out from me." So there was no man with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2He wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard of it. 3Then Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?" But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence.

Genesis 45:1 "Then Joseph could not control himself" This is a VERB (BDB 407, KB 410, negated Qal PERFECT and a Hithpael INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT, BDB 67, KB 80), which is used of Joseph in Genesis 43:31, where he was able to get control of his emotions. Here he wept so loudly (cf. Genesis 45:2) that everyone heard him weeping!

"everyone go out from me" The command (BDB 422, KB 425, Hiphil IMPERATIVE), possibly spoken in Egyptian, is directed to all of Joseph's servants (even his special steward). He is left with only his eleven brothers.

"when Joseph made himself known to his brothers" What a moment this must have been! Joseph was emotional and they became emotional (cf. Genesis 45:3).

Genesis 45:2 "He wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it and the household of Pharaoh heard of it" Joseph had sent all his Egyptian servants out of the room. This was either (1) so as not to embarrass his brothers or (2) so as not to show such great emotion in this personal matter before the Egyptians. However, the Oriental practice of loud wailing was heard by the servants who were close enough to respond if Joseph had called them. Apparently, Joseph was a very loved man in Egypt and his servants were personally concerned about him or were concerned about his expertise and governmental administration being lost, therefore, they reported to Pharaoh what they had heard.

Genesis 45:3 "I am Joseph" This is an exclamation with no VERB. It is supposition that he spoke in Hebrew, but because it seems obvious to assume that his brothers did not speak Egyptian and that there was no translator present, maybe Joseph shocked them by speaking to them in their native tongue and making such a dramatic statement (cf. Genesis 45:4).

"Is my father still alive" Some commentators have doubted the veracity of this verse because in Genesis 43:27 Joseph asked the same question. However, it seems possible that the term (BDB 311, cf. 1 Samuel 25:6) can mean more than simply physical life. Apparently he was asking about his father's well-being, which we learn from later verses, had not been the same since the supposed death of Joseph (cf. Genesis 45:27).

"they were dismayed" This is a strong VERB (BDB 96, KB 111, Niphal PERFECT, cf. Judges 20:41; 1 Samuel 28:21; 2 Samuel 4:1; Job 21:6; Job 23:15; Psalms 6:3; Psalms 30:8; Psalms 48:6; Psalms 83:17; Psalms 90:7; Psalms 104:29; Isaiah 13:8; Isaiah 21:3; Ezekiel 7:27).

Verses 4-15

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Genesis 45:4-15 4Then 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. 5Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6For 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. 7God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. 8Now, 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. 9Hurry 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. 10You 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. 11There 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."' 12Behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth which is speaking to you. 13Now 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." 14Then he fell on his brother Benjamin's neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. 15He kissed all his brothers and wept on them, and afterward his brothers talked with him.

Genesis 45:5 "Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here" The term "grieved" (BDB 780, KB 864, Niphal IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense) in the Niphal stem is used in 1 Samuel 20:3, 1 Samuel 20:34; 2 Samuel 19:2 and Nehemiah 8:10, Nehemiah 8:11. The basic meaning is "hurt," "pain," or "grieve."

The term "angry" is the term "burn" (BDB 354, KB 351, Qal JUSSIVE, cf. Genesis 31:36; Genesis 39:19; Exodus 32:11).

Joseph is about to make one of the most astonishing faith statements found anywhere in the Bible. This verse is the theological purpose of the Joseph account! In the midst of abuse and treachery he was able to see the hand of God (Elohim) by faith. Verses Genesis 45:5-9 form one of the strongest affirmations of the goodness and presence of God even amidst the struggles and problems of life.

Just an added comment on this powerful, wonderful text. My question has always been, "Does God act in these ways only toward the covenant family?"It is obvious that God does whatever is necessary to support the family of Abraham (cf. Romans 9-11), but what about ordinary believers? Is His love for eternity (i.e., redemption) or for time and eternity? Is He with us in the same way? This world is an evil, rebellious place (see The Goodness of God by Wenham). Believers suffer; believers are persecuted; believers are killed! From the NT it seems true that God is with us and for us even amidst circumstances that are unexplainable (see The Christian's Secrets of a Happy Life, by Hannah Whithall Smith). It is a faith presupposition and a Scriptural revelation that believers are precious to God! Life is a mystery, but the unseen (yet not unknown) hand of God is with us moment by moment. Our peace must rest in Him, His Word, His Son, not in circumstances (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Corinthians 13:8-13). We are the family of Abraham (cf. Romans 2:28-29)!

Genesis 45:6 "For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing or harvesting" This goes back to the revelation through Pharaoh's dream that there would be seven severe years of famine.

Genesis 45:7 Joseph's statement in Genesis 45:7, referring to the remnant (BDB 984) being preserved, relates to his activity, not to the later theological use of the term "remnant" which refers to the believing, faithful portion of the Hebrew people.


NASB, NKJV, NJB“by a great deliverance" NRSV“many survivors" TEV“descendants survive" LXX"a great remnant (posterity)" JPSO“an extraordinary deliverance"

This is literally "escape" (BDB 812, cf. Jeremiah 25:35) and the ADJECTIVE "great" (BDB 152). Joseph's aid to his family, by being raised to leadership in Egypt, is described as a great deliverance engineered by YHWH (cf. Genesis 45:5, Genesis 45:8; Genesis 50:20).

Genesis 45:8 "and He has made me" The theological problem related to the doctrine of predestination is not that God knows and effects human actions (as well as physical events), but to what extent is He responsible (duplicitous) for human sin? Theologians (Strong, Systematic Theology, 2nd ed. pp. 423-425; Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd ed. pp. 424-426) have offered several theories which show God's involvement in, but not initiation of, sinful acts (cf. James 1:14; 1 John 2:16).

1. He can prevent an act (cf. Genesis 20:16)

2. He can permit an act (cf. Psalms 81:12-13; Romans 1:24, Romans 1:26, Romans 1:28)

3. He can direct an act (cf. Genesis 37:21-22; Genesis 45:5, Genesis 45:7, Genesis 45:8; Genesis 50:20)

4. He can limit an act (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:13)


"a father to Pharaoh and a lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt" This seems to be a threefold description of Joseph's job assignment in Egypt.

1. he had a unique relationship with Pharaoh. This has become an archaeologically documented title as far back as 3000 B.C. It seems to refer to the position of Grand Vizier.

2. "lord of all his household" seems to be a reference to the management of Pharaoh's personal property (cf. Genesis 41:40; Genesis 47:20-26).

3. "ruler over all the land of Egypt" seems to express his relationship in governmental administration (cf. Genesis 41:41, Genesis 41:48-49, Genesis 41:55-56; Genesis 42:6-7).

Roland deVaux, Ancient Israel, vol. 1, p. 49, shows how the term "father" came to be used as a title for one of Pharaoh's chief advisors. Fathers were the principal teachers of children after they had reached a certain age of maturity, before this it was the mother's task. In the spiritual realm, priests took the term "father" to describe themselves (Hebrew wisdom teachers in Proverbs also took this title, as did priests in Judges 17:10; Judges 18:19).

Genesis 45:9 Joseph addresses his brothers with several commands.

1. hurry, BDB 554, KB 553, Piel IMPERATIVE, cf. Genesis 45:13

2. go up, BDB 748, KB 828, Qal IMPERATIVE

3. come down, BDB 432, KB 434, Qal IMPERATIVE

4. do not delay, BDB 763, KB 840, Qal IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense

Genesis 45:10 "You shall live in the land of Goshen" It is uncertain from the following verses whether this refers to an announcement on behalf of Joseph (cf. Genesis 46:31) or simply logic as to where shepherds lived. The land of Goshen (BDB 177) is located on the upper eastern side of the Nile, close to the land of Canaan. It is later called the land of Rameses (cf. Genesis 47:6, Genesis 47:11). It was the livestock-producing area of Egypt (cf. Genesis 46:32-34).

"and you shall be near me" This verse is often used as an evidence for the Pharaohs whom Joseph served being part of the "Shepherd Kings," or Hyksos, who conquered Egypt by means of the compound bow and horse drawn chariot. They ruled Egypt from 1720 to 1580 B.C. We know that they were Semitic in origin and, therefore, it may have been easier for another Semite, such as Joseph, to rise in their ranks. Throughout Egyptian history, Semitic people have held important places in government. The capital of the Hyksos empire was located in Tanis or Zoan (cf. Psalms 78:12, Psalms 78:43). This is very close to the land of Goshen. However, the later native Egyptian Pharaohs had their capital 400 miles south in the city of Thebes. The dating of Joseph's administration in Egypt is still uncertain and this cannot be used as conclusive evidence.

Genesis 45:12 "Behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth which is speaking to you" The exact meaning of each of these phrases is somewhat uncertain (probably he is not using an interpreter), but the overall thrust is easy to ascertain. Benjamin was uniquely related to Joseph because they were both sons of Rachel. The phrase "my mouth" seems to be used as an idiom for authority (cf. Genesis 45:21 and the interpretation of Rashi).

"Benjamin" Rachel originally named him "son of my sorrow" because she died while giving him birth (cf. Genesis 35:18). However, Jacob changed his name to "the son of my right hand." Because of Jacob's unique love for Rachel, both Joseph and Benjamin were very special to him.

Genesis 45:13 "all my splendor" This is the Hebrew word kabod (BDB 458). Its basic meaning (BDB 458 II) is "heavy" (cf. Genesis 41:31, NASB, "severe"; Exodus 4:10, "heavy of tongue").

It came to be used of that which is valuable. Note the following usages.

1. riches, Genesis 31:1; Isaiah 10:3; Isaiah 61:6

2. splendor/success, Genesis 45:13

3. beauty, Isaiah 35:2

4. severe famine, Genesis 12:10; Genesis 41:13; Genesis 43:1; Genesis 47:4, Genesis 47:13

5. honor, Numbers 24:11

6. much, Genesis 50:10, Genesis 50:11 (i.e., mourning)


Genesis 45:14 "Then he fell on his brother Benjamin's neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck" The excesses of Jewish interpretation, even in a helpful commentator like Rashi, can be seen in this verse. They say that Joseph wept because of the destruction of the tabernacle at Shiloh, which was in Joseph's later land allotment (cf. Joshua). Benjamin wept because of the destruction of the temple, for Jerusalem which is really located in the tribal allocation of Benjamin. This shows the tendency of Jewish exegesis to completely remove the historical setting of the verse and apply it to any major event in the life of Israel.

Verses 16-20

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Genesis 45:16-20 16Now when the news was heard in Pharaoh's house that Joseph's brothers had come, it pleased Pharaoh and his servants. 17Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Say to your brothers, 'Do this: load your beasts and go to the land of Canaan, 18and take your father and your households and come to me, and I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you will eat the fat of the land.' 19Now you are ordered, 'Do this: take wagons from the land of Egypt for your little ones and for your wives, and bring your father and come. 20Do not concern yourselves with your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.'"

Genesis 45:16 The brothers have recovered from (1) the shock of Joseph's revelation of himself to them; (2) the fear of God for what they did to Joseph; and (3) the fear of Joseph himself.

Genesis 45:17-20 This is Pharaoh's message to Joseph for his family.

1. say to your brothers, Genesis 45:17, BDB 55, KB 65, Qal IMPERATIVE

2. do this, Genesis 45:17, BDB 793 I, KB 889, Qal IMPERATIVE

3. load your beasts, Genesis 45:17, BDB 381, KB 378, Qal IMPERATIVE (this VERB is found only here in the OT)

4. go to the land of Canaan, Genesis 45:17, BDB 229, KB 246, Qal IMPERATIVE

5. come (not in NASB), Genesis 45:17, BDB 97, KB 112, Qal IMPERATIVE

6. take your father and your households, Genesis 45:18, BDB 542, KB 534, Qal IMPERATIVE

7. come to me, Genesis 45:18, BDB 97, KB 112, Qal IMPERATIVE

8. I will give you the best of the land of Egypt, Genesis 45:18, BDB 678, KB 733, Qal COHORTATIVE

9. you shall eat the fat of the land, Genesis 45:18, BDB 37, KB 46, Qal IMPERATIVE

10. do this, Genesis 45:19, BDB 793 I, KB 889, Qal IMPERATIVE

11. take wagons, Genesis 45:19, same VERB as #6

12. bring your father (lit. carry), Genesis 45:19, BDB 669, KB 724, Qal PERFECT used in an IMPERATIVE sense

13. come, Genesis 45:19, same VERB as #5 and #7, but a Qal PERFECT used in an IMPERATIVE sense

14. do not concern yourselves with your goods (lit. "let not your eye with regret upon your vessels," Genesis 45:20, BDB 299, KB 298, Qal JUSSIVE; same idiom used in Deuteronomy 7:16; Deuteronomy 13:8; Deuteronomy 19:13,31; Deuteronomy 25:12

Verses 21-23

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Genesis 45:21-23 21Then the sons of Israel did so; and Joseph gave them wagons according to the command of Pharaoh, and gave them provisions for the journey. 22To each of them he gave changes of garments, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five changes of garments. 23To his father he sent as follows: 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 45:21 "wagons" This is an Egyptian loan word meaning "two-wheeled cart pulled by cattle" (BDB 722, cf. 1 Samuel 6:7) and does not refer to the war-chariots (BDB 939, cf. Genesis 41:43) of Egypt. Carts were common in Egypt because of the very flat terrain. They were rare, or possibly unknown, in the land of Palestine because it has rough, hilly terrain. One reason for the Philistine's ability to control the coastal shephelah was because of their use of iron chariots. However, Israel's early victories occurred in the hill country where the chariots were unusable. These carts must have been a very unusual sight in the land of Canaan.

Genesis 45:22 "changes of garments" This possibly refers to ornamental clothing (i.e., Exodus 3:22; Exodus 12:35), which was one of the sources of wealth in the ancient world. It could have been to properly attire his brothers in their new cultural setting (Egypt's elite class, cf. Genesis 41:14). However, it may denote new clothes, not special expensive ones (i.e., Ruth 3:3).

but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five changes of garments" Joseph, of all people, should have been aware of the problem that favoritism causes, yet the cultural setting is such that he lavished attention on his full-blooded brother (cf. Genesis 43:34).

Genesis 45:23 Remember how Jacob had sent gifts to "the man" of Egypt in Genesis 43:11, so now Joseph returns the cultural expectation.

1. ten donkeys loaded with the best things (BDB 375 CONSTRUCT BDB 595)

2. ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread

Wow! What Jacob must have thought when he saw all this coming down the road!

Verses 24-28

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Genesis 45:24-28 24So he sent his brothers away, and as they departed, he said to them, "Do not quarrel on the journey." 25Then they went up from Egypt, and came to the land of Canaan to their father Jacob. 26They told him, saying, "Joseph is still alive, and indeed he is ruler over all the land of Egypt." But he was stunned, for he did not believe them. 27When they 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, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. 28Then Israel said, "It is enough; my son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die."

Genesis 45:24 "he said to them, 'Do not quarrel on the journey'" The VERB (BDB 919, KB 1182, Qal IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense, used only here in Genesis and only twice more in the Pentateuch) can be interpreted as relating to

1. assessing blame for their actions toward Joseph in Genesis 37:0 (Rashi)

2. fear (cf. Exodus 15:14; Deuteronomy 2:25) of returning with the whole family and Joseph taking revenge

3. continuing thoughts about Benjamin getting more food (Genesis 43:34) and now more clothes and silver pieces (Genesis 45:22)

He was reminding them in a subtle way that God Himself had directed the circumstances, not that their acts were not sinful (cf. Genesis 42:21, Genesis 42:28; Genesis 44:16), but that God had a larger purpose (cf. Genesis 45:5, Genesis 45:7, Genesis 45:8; Genesis 50:20; Acts 7:9). God uses even evil for His purposes (cf. Acts 2:23).

Genesis 45:26 "but he was stunned" This word originally meant "to grow numb by means of being cold" (BDB 806, KB 916, Qal IMPERFECT, cf. Psalms 77:2; Habakkuk 1:4). It is obvious that these brothers had to confess to their father what they had done years earlier, although this is not specifically mentioned in the text. It is interesting to note that Joseph's dreams finally come to reality. YHWH knows and controls history! Predictive dreams and prophecies are strong evidence of the uniqueness of the Bible and the character of God.

"for he did not believe them" The VERB (BDB 52, KB 63) is a Hiphil PERFECT. Jacob had also not believed them about Joseph's death (cf. Genesis 37:31-35). Jacob's sons lied to him often and he sensed it! See Special Topic: Believe, Trust, Faith, and Faithfulness in the OT.

Genesis 45:27 "the spirit of the father revived" This seems to imply that since Joseph's supposed death, Jacob was depressed and that he was not the man he had once been. Sometimes the death of a favored child can devastate parents almost to the point of never being able to recover.

Genesis 45:28 It is interesting that in Genesis 45:27 the Patriarch is called "Jacob," which speaks of his old life, while in Genesis 45:28 he is called by his new name "Israel." This is possibly because of (1) his renewed attitude of faith toward God and God's promised covenant which is linked to Joseph or (2) because Jacob is about to make a decision which will affect the entire covenantal people.

The name "Israel" has always been difficult to interpret. Some theories based on Genesis 32:28-29 are: 1."let El persist"

2. "may El preserve"

3. "ruling with El"

4. "prince of God"

See Special Topic: Israel (the name). I do not think that the different names refer to different sources (i.e., J.E.D.P.)! Whatever the correct etymology, this name became the special title of the people of God. After 922 B.C. it refers only to the northern ten tribes. After the return from exile in 538 B.C. it again becomes the title of the entire people of God.

Jacob responds in four ways.

1. it is enough, no VERB (BDB 912 I)

2. my son Joseph is still alive, no VERB

3. I will go, BDB 229, KB 246, Qal COHORTATIVE

4. and see him, BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal IMPERFECT used in a COHORTATIVE sense

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Genesis 45". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/genesis-45.html. 2021.
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