Genesis 45:1–15

45 1 Joseph could no longer constrain himself in front of all who stood in attendance around him, and he called out, “Everyone, leave me now!” So no one stood with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. He loudly wept; the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard. Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” His brothers could not respond because they were dismayed before him.
     Joseph said to his brothers, “I ask you to come closer to me.” They moved close. He said, “I am Joseph, your brother whom you sold into Egypt. Now, do not be pained and upset that you sold me here. It was to save lives that God sent me before you. For two years, there has been famine in the heart of the land, and there are another five years without plowing or harvest. God sent me before you to make you a remnant on earth, to keep you alive as a great group of survivors. So it was not you who sent me here; it was God who made me a father to Pharaoh, lord over his entire household, and ruler over the whole land of Egypt.
     “Hurry! Go up to my father and say to him, ‘Your son Joseph says: “God has made me lord of all of Egypt. Come down to me without delay. 10 You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, so you will be close to me, you and your sons and the sons of your sons, your sheep, your cattle, and all that is yours. 11 I will sustain you for five years of famine remain, and you will not lose everything, you, your household, and all that is yours.” 12 Your own eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin have seen it is my mouth that speaks to you. 13 Tell my father about my importance in Egypt and all that you have seen. Make haste to bring my father down here.” 14 He fell upon the neck of his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. 15 He kissed all his brothers and wept upon them. After this, his brothers spoke with him.

After a third time of bowing by the brothers—a pregnant pause—and a third weeping by Joseph—this time without his leaving the room. At question is how repeated this pattern is. It appears that weeping is the breakthrough needed when there is an impasse between those constrained to bow and those all too comfortable with being bowed to. Why it takes so long to overcome this divide in every culture is a perennial question.

Joseph finally removes his trappings of power—interpreters and other servants are sent away—and he stands alone to try his mother tongue after all these years in Egypt and his training away any hint of his non-Egyptian background.

As the brothers hesitantly gather around Joseph, there is a subtle told-you-so as Joseph claims what the brothers meant as harm to him, personally, G*D and Joseph have transformed into good for many (including, particularly, his tribe).

Do note the “double causation” here. Though many commentators and translations try to turn this into a pious response from Joseph—giving all glory to G*D—Joseph is a critical center, providing a full sheaf that attracts famished sheaves to him.

A second note is the G*D designation—a simple ’elohim which can be understood as a general providence or fate without the grandeur of a monotheistic YHWH.

With all the brothers together in one room, Joseph sends for his father and his household to come and dwell in the region of Goshen that is both close to the Sinai and the pastureland of the Nile. As second only to Pharaoh, Joseph can privilege his family and arrange for them to survive another five years of famine in all the lands.

With the weeping and the invitation to Jacob/Israel, the brothers could again speak to one another. Joseph has well-played his part and his claim to tribal leadership as coming from G*D—except they are in Egypt, not the promised Canaanland.

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