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Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, [1834], at

Genesis Chapter 45

- Joseph Made Himself Known to His Brethren

10. גשׁן gôshen, Goshen, Gesem (Arabias related perhaps to גשׁם geshem "rain, shower"), a region on the borders of Egypt and Arabia, near the gulf of Suez.

The appeal of Judah is to Joseph irresistible. The repentance of his brothers, and their attachment to Benjamin, have been demonstrated in the most satisfactory manner. This is all that Joseph sought. It is evident, throughout the whole narrative, that he never aimed at exercising any supremacy over his brothers. As soon as he has obtained an affecting proof of the right disposition of his brothers, he conceals himself no longer. And the speech of Judah, in which, no doubt, his brothers concurred, does equal credit to his head and heart.

Gen 45:1-15

Joseph now reveals to his brothers the astonishing fact that he himself, their long-lost brother, stands before them. "He could not refrain himself." Judah has painted the scene at home to the life; and Joseph can hold out no longer. "Have every man out from me." Delicacy forbids the presence of strangers at this unrestrained outburst of tender emotion among the brothers. Besides, the workings of conscience, bringing up the recollections of the past, and the errors, to which some reference is now unavoidable, are not to be unveiled to the public eye. "He lifted up his voice in weeping." The expression of the feelings is free and uncontrolled in a simple and primitive state of society. This prevails still in the East. And Mizraim heard. The Egyptians of Joseph's house would hear, and report to others, this unusual utterance of deep feeling. "I am Joseph." The natural voice, the native tongue, the long-remembered features, would, all at once, strike the apprehension of the brothers.

The remembrance of their crime, the absolute power of Joseph, and the justice of revenge, would rush upon their minds. No wonder they were silent and troubled at his presence. "Is my father yet alive?" This question shows where Joseph's thoughts were. He had been repeatedly assured of his father's welfare. But the long absence and the yearning of a fond heart bring the question up again. It was reassuring to the brethren, as it was far away from any thought of their fault or their punishment. "Come near unto me." Joseph sees the trouble of his brothers, and discerns its cause. He addresses them a second time, and plainly refers to the fact of their having sold him. He points out that this was overruled of God to the saving of life; and, hence, that it was not they, but God who had mercifully sent him to Egypt to preserve all their lives. "For these two years." Hence, we perceive that the sons of Jacob obtained a supply, on the first occasion, which was sufficient for a year. "To leave to you a remnant in the land."

This is usually and most naturally referred to a surviving portion of their race. "Father to Pharaoh;" a second author of life to him. Having touched very slightly on their transgression, and endeavored to divert their thoughts to the wonderful providence of God displayed in the whole affair, he lastly preoccupies their minds with the duty and necessity of bringing down their father and all their families to dwell in Egypt. "In the land of Goshen." This was a pasture land on the borders of Egypt and Arabia, perhaps at some distance from the Nile, and watered by the showers of heaven, like their own valleys. He then appeals to their recollections and senses, whether he was not their very brother Joseph. "My mouth that speaketh unto you;" not by an interpreter, but with his own lips, and in their native tongue. Having made this needful and reassuring explanation, he breaks through all distance, and falls upon Benjamin's neck and kisses him, and all his other brothers; after which their hearts are soothed, and they speak freely with him.

Gen 45:16-20

The intelligence that Joseph's brethren are come reaches the ears of Pharaoh, and calls forth a cordial invitation to come and settle in Egypt. "It was good in the eyes of Pharaoh." They highly esteemed Joseph on his own account; and that he should prove to be a member of a respectable family, and have the pleasure of again meeting with his nearest relatives, were circumstances that afforded them a real gratification. "The good of the land of Mizraim." The good which it produces. Wagons; two-wheeled cars, fit for driving over the rough country, where roads were not formed. "Let not your eye care for your stuff;" your houses, or pieces of furniture which must be left behind. The family of Jacob thus come to Egypt, not by conquest or purchase, but by hospitable invitation, as free, independent visitors or settlers. As they were free to come or not, so were they free to stay or leave.

Gen 45:21-24

The brothers joyfully accept the hospitable invitation of Pharaoh, and set about the necessary arrangements for their journey. "The sons of Israel;" including Joseph, who had his own part to perform in the proposed arrangement. "At the mouth of Pharaoh;" as he had authorized him to do. "Changes of raiment;" fine raiment for change on a high or happy day. To Benjamin he gives special marks of fraternal affection, which no longer excite any jealous feeling among the brothers, as the reasonableness of them is obvious. "Fall out." The original word means to be stirred by any passion, whether fear or anger, and interpreters explain it as they conceive the circumstances and the context require. The English version corresponds with the Septuagint ὀργίζεσθε orgizesthe and with Onkelos. It refers, perhaps, to the little flashes of heat, impatience, and contention that are accustomed to disturb the harmony of companions in the East, who behave sometimes like overgrown children. Such ebullitions often lead to disastrous consequences. Joseph's exile arose from petty jealousies among brethren.

Gen 45:25-28

The returning brothers inform their father of the existence and elevation of Joseph in Egypt. The aged patriarch is overcome for the moment, but at length awakens to a full apprehension of the joyful news. His heart fainted; ceased to beat for a time, fluttered, sank within him. The news was too good for him to venture all at once to believe it. But the words of Joseph, which they recite, and the wagons which he had sent, at length lead to the conviction that it must be indeed true. He is satisfied. His only thought is to go and see Joseph before he dies. A sorrow of twenty-two years' standing has now been wiped away.

Next: Genesis Chapter 46