Genesis 45

Genesis 45:1 Joseph could not refrain himself

Love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness are all divine virtues.  While most of us lack a sufficient supply, Joseph is so full of goodness that his mortal soul could no longer maintain the ruse nor continue the disguise.  His cup of righteousness reached the rim and more, running over the sides like the tears which streamed down his face.

“Which of us, man or woman, does not need the spirit of Joseph as it is expressed at the end of the story: when in spite of reasons he had for returning hurt for hurt, his affection for his family is so clean and true that the one thing he is concerned with is to forgive and to restore?” (The Interpreter’s Bible, ed. by G. A. Buttrick et al [New York, Abingdon Press, 1952] vol. 1, p. 799)

Piety or godliness was also an integral part of Joseph . . . History would search far to find another scene so filled with human feelings as that of Joseph listening to his brethren (who were unaware that he could understand them, since he had always spoken to them through an interpreter) speak of their punishment for having sold their brother into slavery. Joseph responded with sternness, as God must sometimes do with us, but when one sees him moved to tears on two occasions—to the point that he must leave the room to hide his face from his brethren—one senses the depth of his Christlike love, filled with forgiveness for the truly penitent.

“I respect our father Joseph for many things—for his faith, his virtue, his knowledge, his temperance and patience, and for his godliness. But most of all I respect him for his brotherly kindness and love. These are his most godlike attributes; these are his touch-point with the Savior and his touch-point with us, his posterity. These are the attributes we should attempt to emulate as the grandchildren of this model of Christian excellence; one of the greatest men this world has ever produced, a father who taught all of his posterity what it means to truly know Christ.” (Arthur R. Bassett, “Joseph, Model of Excellence,” Ensign, Sept. 1980, 13)

Genesis 45:4  I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt

David E. Sorensen

Surely at that moment Joseph had the power to exact revenge. He might have put his brethren in prison or sentenced them to death. Instead he confirmed his forgiveness. He said: “I am Joseph your brother [quotes Gen. 45:4-8)]”

Joseph’s will to forgive changed bitterness to love. (Conference Report, April 2003, 10)

Genesis 45:5 be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves

Neal A. Maxwell

One deeply admires those wronged who, nevertheless, go on doing that which is right, refusing to become offended or bitter. Let others charge God foolishly (see Job 1:22); these faithful souls are magnanimous and forgiving, as was a generous Joseph in Egypt to his erring brothers: “Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.” (Gen. 45:6.) Such Saints fashion forgiveness where others would revel in resentment! (Ensign, May 1983, 11)

Genesis 45:5 God did send me before you to preserve life

“Looking back, Joseph could say that the whole long course of his life had been shaped by God.  It was God who had brought him where he was, not chance, nor men’s choices, good or evil. But if it seemed that way now, it had certainly not always seemed so.  God had not appeared concerned when his brothers put him in the pit, when the caravan took him into slavery in Egypt, when a woman’s lies got him underserved disgrace, when he lay in Pharaoh’s prison.  Note . . . that God’s hand may be moving long before it is revealed.  Plainly that was true with Joseph.  The very things that seemed at the moment the blindest and most cruel strokes of fate had brought his life to its fulfillment.”

Genesis 45:7  God sent be before you . . . to save your lives by a great deliverance

Joseph’s relationship with his brothers is a type for Jehovah’s relationship with the children of Israel.  The scriptures speak of this latter relationship as a marriage instead of a brotherhood, but the betrayal, mercy, forgiveness, and redemption are the same. In this respect Joseph is a type for Christ.

  • Joseph was disregarded by Jacob’s sons; Jehovah was rejected by the children of Israel, “thou hast been weary of me, O Israel.” (Isa. 43:22)

  • Joseph’s brothers considered murder and rejected him; the children of Israel played the harlot in worshipping other gods, “Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? She is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot.” (Jer. 3:6)

  • Joseph was sold as a slave for 20 pieces of silver; Jesus, the pre-mortal Jehovah, was sold for 30 pieces of silver (Matt. 26:15)

  • Joseph commanded his servants to frighten his brethren and show them their wickedness (Gen. 44); Jehovah commanded his prophets to demonstrate the same, “Cry aloud, spare not… and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” (Isa. 58:1)

  • Joseph’s brethren bought corn from Joseph but never had to pay for it; Jehovah, the Bread of Life, also offers a free meal, “come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” (Isa 55:1)

  • Joseph had mercy for his brethren in spite of being treated brutally; Jehovah has mercy for the children of Israel in spite of them playing the harlot, “I will mention the lovingkindesses of the Lord, and he praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindesses.” (Isa 63:7; Isa 54:6-8)

  • Joseph forgives and forgets the betrayal; Jehovah forgives Israel saying, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” (Isa. 43:25)

  • Joseph was sent by God to preserve the lives of his family; Jehovah was sent by God to save Israel and all mankind.

  • Joseph’s emotions were overwhelming when reunited with his brethren; Jehovah’s love for Israel is overwhelming (3 Ne. 17:6, 20-21)

  • Joseph fell upon their necks, wept, and kissed his brethren; the Lord will unite the city of Enoch and Zion, “we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other.” (Moses 7:63)

  • Joseph surprised his brethren revealing his identity with “I am Joseph;” the Messiah will surprise the Jews announcing his identity with “I am Jesus that was crucified.  I am the Son of God.” (D&C 45:52)

Joseph prepared a temporal salvation for Israel; Jehovah prepared a temporal and spiritual salvation for Israel.

One of the more interesting phenomena in the Old Testament is to identify how a historical narrative can testify of Christ.  As if certain events were scripted to foreshadow the mission of Jesus Christ, many stories, including this one, preach of and point to Christ. The Book of Mormon Jacob said, “the scriptures… truly testify of Christ (and he was talking about the Old Testament). Behold, I say unto you that none of the prophets have written, nor prophesied, save they have spoken concerning this Christ.” (Jacob 7:10-11)  Abraham was a type for the Father, Isaac for the Son, Jacob’s line would produce the Christ, Joseph was a type for Jehovah, Moses was a prophet like unto the Messiah (Deut. 18:18), and so on, and so on.

Genesis 45:10,18  thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen

The location of the land of Goshen is not perfectly known.  Most scholars suspect that it was positioned on the eastern part of the Nile Delta.  The student should remember that over 4000 years ago,  the Nile delta would have looked considerably different topographically, as water and earth have been moving towards the Mediterranean for millennia.   The text clearly indicates that it was a good land, particularly for grazing cattle, which was the occupation of the Israelites.

land of goshen

Genesis 45:11 I will nourish thee; for yet there are five years of famine

God had the power to end the famine so that the children of Israel could stay in the land of their inheritance.  He doesn’t alter the famine to keep Jacob’s sons out of Egypt.  Five years of famine means that Jacob’s whole family must move to Goshen.  The Lord knows what is going to happen.  He knows that the next Pharoah is going to be the world’s first, and most famous anti-Semite.  In the short term, God’s plan includes temporal salvation for Joseph’s family but sets up the captivity for which Moses will become famous.  The script is proceeding just according to the Lord’s overall plan.  How does it suit God’s purposes to have the Israelites settle in Goshen?  Their deliverance from the five-year famine sets up the Lord delivering the entire nation that develops from the bondage of Egypt.  Could it have been otherwise?  Why did God allow that?

Genesis 45:14 he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck, and wept

Only Joseph and Benjamin were born of Rachel.  They were full blood brothers.  The other 10 were Joseph’s half brothers, having come from one of Jacob’s other three wives/concubines.  Hence, the bond seems a little stronger between these two than the other brothers. Certainly, Joseph would have asked about his mother’s health as the two kissed each other’s necks.

Although, as history would unfold, it would be the tribe of Judah with which the tribe of Benjamin would most closely associate.  In Egypt, Joseph and Benjamin were close, but centuries later in Canaan,  the tribe of Judah and Benjamin were the two tribes that stuck together after the days of Solomon (2 Chron. 11).

Genesis 45:22 to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver, and five changes of raiment

“What is Joseph thinking?  What possible reason could he have to give Benjamin favorable treatment?  Is this not the exact kind of behavior that led to so much suffering in the past?

“When they were kids, Jacob favored Joseph over all of the others.  He loved him more.  He did not make him work out in the fields.  Jacob even gave Joseph the infamous ‘Coat of Many Colors,’ which symbolized everything that the brothers hated about him.

“Joseph is now repeating the exact same provocations.  Not only does Joseph favor Benjamin, he does so with clothing.  That detail had to have registered with their siblings.  What is going on?  Is Joseph naive, or cruel?

“Neither.  It is another test.  Joseph is not done with his brothers.  So far, he has applied the pressure directly to see if the brothers will take responsibility for each other when confronted with an outside threat.  They have passed this test.

“Now Joseph sends them back into the wilderness, unsupervised, with a brother who has been given special treatment.  It will be easy enough for Benjamin to get ‘lost’ or ‘eaten by a wild animal’ on the way.  He has recreated the conditions under which they sinned many years earlier.

“But Joseph does not want them to fail.  Two verses later, he undermines the purity of his test by warning them to behave.” (Rabbi Josh Berkenwald, Dec. 16, 2018 at