16 When the news reached Pharaoh’s palace that Joseph’s brothers had come, Pharaoh and all his officials were pleased. 17 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers, ‘Do this: Load your animals and return to the land of Canaan, 18 and bring your father and your families back to me. I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you can enjoy the fat of the land.’
19 “You are also directed to tell them, ‘Do this: Take some carts from Egypt for your children and your wives, and get your father and come.20 Never mind about your belongings, because the best of all Egypt will be yours.’”
21 So the sons of Israel did this. Joseph gave them carts, as Pharaoh had commanded, and he also gave them provisions for their journey. 22 To each of them he gave new clothing, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred shekels of silver and five sets of clothes. 23 And this is what he sent to his father: ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other provisions for his journey. 24 Then he sent his brothers away, and as they were leaving he said to them, “Don’t quarrel on the way!”
25 So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. 26 They told him, “Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt.” Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them. 27 But when they told him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts Joseph had sent to carry him back, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. 28 And Israel said, “I’m convinced! My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”
(Genesis 45:16-28 NIV)
In the beginning of Chapter 45, Joseph revealed his identity to his brothers. Scripture records that the brothers were terrified – most likely, they were fearing for their lives. Joseph quickly addressed their fears, letting them know that what they meant for evil so many years ago, God was orchestrating for the good of the whole family. There would be no paybacks, no retribution.
As we noted last time, the news quickly spread to Joseph’s Egyptian counterparts, and all the way up to Pharaoh himself.
In today’s passage, we Pharaoh’s response to the news of Joseph’s brothers. Pharaoh summoned Joseph and told him to invite his whole family to move to Egypt. Pharaoh promised them land and provision for all of Joseph’s family – his brothers and their families, as well as his aged father. Pharaoh even sent provisions and carts to make the journey easier for the women, children, and Joseph’s father.
Joseph arranged for all the provisions as Pharaoh had commanded. Joseph’s last admonition before the brothers left Egypt was to get along – no quarreling on the way! Joseph knew his brothers all too well – sibling rivalry was still strong among his brothers.
When the brothers arrived home, they told their father that Joseph was still alive. Imagine Jacob’s shock and disbelief as he heard this news. In fact, verse 26 records that Jacob did not believe them!
I find it ironic that Jacob immediately jumped to worst-case scenario and assumed Joseph was dead back in Chapter 37 when the brothers presented Joseph’s multi-colored coat to Jacob and asked if it belong to Joseph, and now, when the brothers tell the truth, Jacob does not believe them.
But the brothers prevailed by telling their father everything that Joseph had said to them, and by the evidence of the Egyptian carts that were ready to take them to Egypt.
Verse 27 says that the brothers told Jacob everything that Joseph had said to them. I wonder if they came clean about their hatred and evil deeds so many years ago, or if they simply said that God sent Joseph ahead to provide for them? After so many years, did it even matter any more?
Upon hearing from his sons and seeing the carts, Jacob was convinced that his sons’ message was true. Verse 28 records Jacob saying, “I’m convinced!” The literal translation from the Hebrew is actually Jacob saying, “Enough!” Jacob had heard all he needed to hear, and stopped the conversation. Jacob’s mind was made up; he was ready to go see his long-lost son Joseph before he died.
Interestingly, today’s text refers to Jacob as both his old name (Jacob) and his new God-given name (Israel). Indeed, transformation was still taking place in Jacob’s life, even in his old age.
May we allow God to transform our hearts and minds, no matter how old we are, or what life has thrown at us.
May we rejoice at good news, and look forward to experiencing what God in His Providence has been knitting together for His glory and our good so many years ago.