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Deeper Commentary

Gen 45:1 Then Joseph couldn’t refrain himself before all those who stood before him, and he cried, Cause everyone to go out from me! No one else stood with him, while Joseph made himself known to his brothers"Then Joseph couldn't refrain himself..." implies he planned to drag out the process of spiritually refining his brothers, but his love for them caused him to cut it short- "For the elects sake the days shall be shortened" by Christ (Mt. 24:22).The same Hebrew word is used in Is. 42:14 about how God can no longer refrain Himself in the last days. We see Joseph's defence of his brothers in his desire that nobody else be present at this time; he suspected there may be confession and apology regarding what they had done to him, and he didn't want the world to know about it. This is the love that seeks to cover and save, whilst facing up to the issues.

"Refrain" is the word used of Joseph refraining himself before his brothers at their first meeting. The Hebrew means to force oneself, to force against one's own nature and will (s.w. 1 Sam. 13:12 "I forced myself and offered a burnt offering"). And this is how it is with the apparently harder side of God. Just as Joseph's actions towards his brothers were apparently harsh, so with God's harder side- the death of children, all the suffering in our lives, the cruel nature of life. But when God is finally revealed, we shall see that in fact this was His forcing Himself against His own nature. For His nature is "love". We get a glimpse of this at times, but only a fleeting glimpse. All too soon eclipsed by present realities and sufferings. We see it again when we truly reflect upon the cross, the gift of His Son for us. All the rest of our necessary suffering, incomprehensible and random as it appears to us, is in fact God pushing against His own nature. Finally like Joseph He will not refrain Himself any longer: "I have long time held My peace... and refrained Myself. Now will I cry out like a travailing woman" (Is. 42:14). And we urge Him towards this: "Will You refrain Yourself, O Lord?" (Is. 64:12), asking Him whether His love is restrained (Is. 63:15). We have a choice- to consider God a "hard man" as the one talant man of the parable does. Or to see that His apparent hardness is only the same mask as Joseph wore to his brothers, talking another language, interlacing grace and love with apparently hard and unreasonable behaviour. But all that is to lead us to the final conclusion when God removes the mask and we understand what we now cannot: God is love and salvation itself. Those who see only the hard mask are failing to perceive the frequent glimpses behind it, which Joseph so often afforded the brothers  [giving them their money back, dining them, not demanding they all die nor be punished for their theft of his cup etc.]. In this life, we behold both the goodness and severity of God. But that is what Paul says "we behold". And we see only in a darkened mirror, but then face to face. The message of the Joseph story is that actually behind what we see, God is pure goodness and love alone. But He forces Himself to act as Joseph did, in ways which appear random and cruel to us- in order to achieve the aim of His love, which is our eternal salvation.

Joseph as a type of Christ means that his brothers also have significance. The brethren meeting Joseph at the end has many echoes of the judgment seat of Christ. The whole purpose of the painful process which led up to that meeting was for the benefit of the brethren, to make them realize the enormity of their sin and the greatness of Joseph's grace. Likewise the judgment is for our benefit; the outcome is known to God beforehand. Does the (emphasized) emotionalism of Joseph at this time indicate anything about the Lord's attitude then? 

We observe that one moment, the brothers were condemned, or at least Benjamin was. But that sentence was very suddenly commuted to amazing blessing. The suddeness of the change of 'fortune' was of course what Joseph had experienced; one moment imprisoned, the next, the second most powerful man on planet earth. He was perhaps seeking again to help them enter into his experiences, just as the Lord tries to get us to enter into His. That we might "know" Him, understand Him, enter relationship with Him.

Joseph's self revelation was through his meal with the brothers and then the drama with his cup. It looks forward to how the Lord Jesus revealed himself in the breaking of bread: "And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?" (Lk. 24:30-32). This is matched in how the hearts of Joseph's brothers "burned within them" when they were sat down at his table in order of birth (Gen. 43:33).

Gen 45:2 He wept aloud. The Egyptians heard, and the house of Pharaoh heard- The pressure release must have been huge. The implication could be that Pharaoh lived within Pharaoh's court, and his household heard the noise. This would mean that the opulence of everything would have been overpowering for the tent dwelling cattle herding brothers. That this powerful man could show such grace to them... was so hard to believe. And they are in exactly our position.

Gen 45:3 Joseph said to his brothers, I am Joseph! Does my father still live?- Joseph had twice asked them this. He asks again; perhaps indicating that whilst he accepted them and forgave them, he did so by grace and not because he thought they were now totally truthful or totally repentant.

His brothers couldn’t answer him; for they were terrified at his presence- Literally, at his face, a face full of tearful passionate love and forgiveness. This reveals the deep human tendency to not believe in grace. They expected punishment, and were thinking only of how they could now cut the best deal for themselves. They make no confession, and Joseph doesn't need to verbalize his forgiveness because that is now so apparent. 

Gen 45:4 Joseph said to his brothers, Come near to me, please. They came near. He said, I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into Egypt- Joseph's brothers slink away from him, and he has to encourage them: "Come near to me, please". They absolutely knew that they ought to be punished and killed by him, and they thought he would do it. They had moved away from him as if they felt they were condemned. This will be the feature of all those finally accepted by the Lord; they will know they are rightly condemned, and yet they are to be saved eternally. Even years later, Joseph wept in frustration at their lack of full acceptance of his total forgiveness (Gen. 50:17). These scenes are so evidently typical of the future judgment seat of Joseph / Jesus. There is even the suggestion in Rev. 7:15 that after the judgment process, the Lord will come down off His throne and mix with us, after the pattern of Joseph. Ps. 36:8 says that God will "make us" partake of the blessings of the Kingdom of God. It reminds me of how the Lord Jesus said that in His Kingdom, He will "make us" sit down at a table, and He will come and serve us (Lk. 12:37), knowing full well that he who sits at meat is greater than he who serves (Lk. 22:27). It isn't so difficult to imagine this scene: the Lord of glory wanting us to sit down to a meal, and then He comes and serves us. He will have to "make us" sit down and let ourselves be served. Perhaps "Come, you blessed of my Father, iwagonherit the Kingdom" (Mt. 25:34) likewise suggests a hesitancy of the faithful to enter the Kingdom, seeing they have had such doubt about salvation. Perhaps this is typified here by Joseph's revelation to his brethren; they slink away from him, and he has to encourage them: "Come near to me". 

Gen 45:5 Now don’t be grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life- The only other time this Hebrew phrase for "grieved and angry" occurs is again about the brothers, when they are grieved and angry for what was done to their sister Dinah (Gen. 34:7). But now they are grieved and angry for what had been done to their brother Joseph, and they are grieved with themselves as the perpetrators. They were seeing themselves from outside of themselves, angry with the side of them that had done such wrong to their brother. They were as bad as the Shechemites whom they had judged so harshly. This was indeed a move toward spiritual maturity.

The "life" that was preserved was primarily the lives of Israel- them and their families- so that the Abrahamic covenant with them might be fulfilled and they would not die out. The "life" that was preserved was primarily the lives of Israel- them and their families- so that the Abrahamic covenant with them might be fulfilled and they would not die out (:7). "Preserve life" is parallel with "preserve a remnant" (:7). The remnant, the minority of humanity whom God deals with, is the "life" He sees and has relationship with on earth.

Sin, both our own and the sins of others against us, is actually used by God in a wonderful way. Not that this of course justifies sin. But it is a fact that through our experience of the sin-repentance-forgiveness process, we grow hugely. Here we have the answer to those who cannot forgive themselves for past sins. God works out His plan of salvation actually through man’s disobedience rather than his obedience. As Paul puts it again, we are concluded in unbelief, that God may have mercy (Rom. 11:32). It was and is the spirit of Joseph. And again, speaking about the sin of Israel in rejecting Christ: “Their trespass means riches for the [Gentile] world” (Rom. 11:12). The whole plan with the brothers resulted in the world's salvation. Or yet again, think of how Abraham’s lie about Sarah and unfaithfulness to his marriage covenant with her became a source of God’s blessing and the curing of  Abimelech’s wife from infertility (Gen. 20:17- I read her infertility as a state that existed prior to the incident with Abraham). The righteousness of God becomes available to us exactly because we have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23,24).

Judah's words and his brothers' feelings are exactly those of Daniel in Dan. 10:15-17, where in another death and resurrection experience, he feels just the same as he lays prostrate before the Angel. Our attitude to the Lord in the last day will be our attitude to Him at the breaking of bread- just as our “boldness" in prayer now will be our “boldness" in the day of judgment. In the same way as the brothers had to be reassured by Joseph of his loving acceptance, so the Lord will have to ‘make us’ sit down with Him, and encourage us to enter into His joy. There will be some sort of disbelief at the extent of His grace in all those who are truly acceptable with Him (“When saw we thee…?"). The brothers grieved and were angry with themselves in the judgment presence of Joseph (Gen. 45:5)- they went through the very feelings of the rejected (cp. “weeping and gnashing of teeth" in self-hatred). And yet they were graciously accepted, until like Daniel they can eventually freely talk with their saviour Lord (Gen. 45:15). And so the sheep will feel rejected at the judgment, they will condemn themselves- in order to be saved ultimately. The same words occur in Neh. 8:10,11, when a repentant Israel standing before the judgment bema (LXX) are given the same assurance.

Gen 45:6 For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are yet five years, in which there will be neither ploughing nor harvest- Again we see Joseph's firm faith that prophetic dreams come true. Joseph stood before Pharaoh at 30 years old, so he was now 39. He had reached a spiritual maturity which few ever reach in their lives.

Joseph tells the Egyptians, "Here is seed for you, and you shall sow the land", and give a fifth of the harvest to Pharaoh (Gen. 47:23). But he comments in Gen. 45:6 that throughout the seven year famine, there would be neither ploughing nor harvest. We could read Gen. 47:23 as an agreement for the longer term future; but that appears disallowed by "Here is seed for you, and you shall sow the land". We could therefore conclude that Joseph knew God well enough to know that the seven year period of famine was negotiable; perhaps he was praying in faith that the days might be shortened. The Bible is full of such Divine accommodation to human prayers.

Gen 45:7 God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to save you alive by a great deliverance- The "great deliverance" is alluded to in Heb. 2:3 "that great salvation". Israel saved, all the surrounding world also blessed with deliverance from the famine- Ditto for the last days; the nations around Israel blessed materially to overcome the problems of the latter day judgments. These judgments are to make Israel repent, but in that time of trouble the whole world suffers. The "life" of :5 that was preserved was primarily the lives of Israel- them and their families- so that the Abrahamic covenant with them might be fulfilled and they would not die out. Joseph so often sees things in terms of the implications of the promises to the fathers, just as we should- for they are the basis of the new covenant we are also in. The Jacob family were nearly dying of starvation after only two years of the seven year famine; and they had money and transport to go to Egypt and buy food. Many others in Canaan must have died. For subsistence farmers cannot survive more than one failed harvest, let alone seven. God's plan was that they should be preserved as the remnant in the eretz, the land promised to Abraham. His intention therefore was that they should return from Egypt to Canaan once the famine ended. See on :10; Gen. 46:4,27; 47:1,4,15,18,20,27; 48:16,21. This was why the brothers stated that they only wanted to "sojourn" temporarily in Egypt during the famine (see on Gen. 47:4). But they remained in the soft life of Egypt, when they could have become the sole inheritors of Canaan. And so God's saving purpose was delayed by 430 years until they were forced to leave Egypt. The situation is directly analogous with Judah in captivity in Babylon, called to return, but preferring to remain there. They were "the remnant that escaped" (Ezra 9:8; Is. 10:20; Ez. 14:22; cp. Is. 37:31), where "escaped" is the same word here translated "deliverance". This explains why the remnant who returned are called "the remnant of Jacob" in allusion to his historical situation (Mic. 5:7,8), using the same word as here for "remnant". "The remnant of Israel [Jacob] shall not [on repentance] speak lies [any more]" (Zeph. 3:13). The "remnant of Israel and... survivors of the house of Jacob" (Is. 10:20) clearly refer to this experience of a remnant being survivors: "to preserve for you a remnant... to make sure that you and your descendants survive" (GNB). Joseph's mixed up brothers, saved by his pure grace, therefore represent all the true remnant who shall be saved.

Gen 45:8 So now it wasn’t you who sent me here, but God- 'Not this but that' in Semitic [and other] languages means 'Not so much this, as that'. Paul's statement that he had been sent not to baptize but to preach must be read like this. We have here for all time the wonderful proof that God works through human sin and dysfunction to His greater glory, rather than turning away in disgust from it and leaving us to our own devices and their consequences.

Joseph is clear that "You sold me into Egypt" (:4), but he repeatedly explains that "You sold me [but in fact] God sent me" into Egypt. You sold me, but God sent me. This is the key to coping with life, to perceive that what happens to us on one level is used by God on another. Likewise in Gen. 50:19,20: "You
planned evil for me, but God planned it for good
". We note too that reconciliation involves our own full recognition of the evil done to us by others, and not negotiating it down.

And He has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of all his house, and ruler over all the land of Egypt- Lord of all Pharaoh's house- Joseph's experience of something similar in Potiphar's "house" and the prison house meant that he wouldn't have become proud because of it, and would've experienced it all thinking 'And this too, knowing my life, will likely soon come to an end. Worldly advantage comes and goes...'.

Joseph was 'father' to Pharaoh, and it has been commented that "There is no title "father to Pharaoh" in Egyptian; and the closest parallel it-ncr, "god's father", is something of an embarrassment... being an appellative granted... to the progenitor of a dynasty"- Donald Redford, The Biblical Story of Joseph (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1970) p. 191. Thus the title "Father" used about the Lord Jesus shouldn't lead us to think that Jesus "is" God the Father. "Father" is used in Is. 9:6 ["everlasting father"] in a manner consistent with other Old Testament usage to denote a leader, a great one- but not God Himself in person.

Joseph's dreams had predicted that he was to "have dominion" (Gen. 37:8), and here the Hebrew word is used of how Joseph ruled over all Egypt and those who came to buy corn from him such as his brothers (Gen. 45:8,26). His words here are therefore not proud, but pointing out how his dreams had come true.

Gen 45:9 Hurry, and go up to my father, and tell him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says, God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me. Don’t wait- The usage of "father" is in contrast to how he was "father to Pharaoh" (:8); but he considered Jacob his true father and senior to him. Joseph's love and respect for Jacob was immense; even though he had only lived with him until 17 years old, and Jacob's favouritism towards him had not really helped him in his early life. The twice expressed urgency (and again in :13) was not only because Joseph feared his father could die at any moment; but perhaps also because he sensed that the wonder of what had happened could wear off, and the brothers might cease to believe it. For believing in such wonderful grace is actually difficult. We would rather procrastinate, than accept it for what it is and act zealously on the implications of it.

Gen 45:10 You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you will be near to me, you, your children, your children’s children, your flocks, your herds, and all that you have- "Near to me" connects with how Jacob had needed to urge his brothers to come near to him (:4). He wanted to live permanently with them with that same close relationship he had in that first moment when he revealed himself, in the magnificence of his grace and saving love toward them. And so there will be no decline in intensity after we too meet our Lord at judgment day, in the greatness of all His passion toward us. We shall live eternally in the spirit of that moment. There will be no entropy, no fading of intensity. Everlasting joy shall be upon our heads. Goshen, "land of rain", was the only area of Egypt as it then was which experienced rain, rather than depending upon the flooding of the Nile for irrigation. It was near the border with Canaan, which confirms the suggestion made on :7 that they were intended to live there until the famine was over, and then return to Canaan.

Gen 45:11 There I will nourish you; for there are yet five years of famine; lest you come to poverty, you, and your household, and all that you have’- Joseph seems to have sensed that they might prefer not to believe his interpretation of dreams, and think that surely next year there will be a harvest... and therefore remain in Canaan, away from him and the challenge of living with his grace. There really is something within us which shies away from grace. Even by the time of Gen. 50:21, the brothers still feared that Joseph might not continue to "nourish" them. Faith in grace must continue; it is not the realization of a moment. To abide in grace is not so easy. Their tendency would be to return to Canaan, indeed awed by their brother's grace, but just get back on with their lives, living admittedly somewhat better than they had previously, but just doing their own thing. To engage continually with his grace would demand so much from them. And so he repeats that the famine is going to last another five years (:6). The Hebrew translated "poverty" really has the idea of being possessed by another, or being disinherited (s.w. Ex. 34:24; Lev. 25:46; Num. 14:12; 21:32; 32:21,39; 33:52-55; Dt. 2:12,21-24 etc.). All those passages speak of Israel dispossessing the land of Canaan; if Israel's sons now tried to remain in Canaan, then they would be dispossessed and would fall out of the covenant promises. Again Joseph is reasoning in terms of the promises to the fathers. They would not be able to inherit the land as promised if they returned there without Joseph; they had to live in Egypt (the world) nourished by Joseph's bread of life, engaged continually with him and confronted by his grace, so that finally they could eternally inherit the land. This all speaks to us; for we likewise have the same promises made to us. We too might foolishly seek to grab "the land" for ourselves without  the necessary confrontation with the Lord's grace and care for us, all of which provokes in us a continual awareness that we are far from worthy of such grace and have sinned grievously.

Gen 45:12 Behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaks to you- He now spoke without an interpreter (cp. Gen. 42:23). His accent and language were proof enough that he was indeed their brother; although he had not spoken Hebrew all his adult life, for the last 22 years. But his heart had always been with them, and so he remembered it. It was by his words and speech that he was known to them; and this is true of the convicting power of the Lord's word to us.

Gen 45:13 You shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that you have seen. You shall hurry and bring my father down here- Again the stress is on acting quickly, as twice in :9. This was not only because Joseph feared his father could die at any moment; but perhaps also because he sensed that the wonder of what had happened could wear off, and the brothers might cease to believe it. For believing in such wonderful grace is actually difficult. We would rather procrastinate, than accept it for what it is and act zealously on the implications of it.

There is no statement from the brothers. No confession of sin, no begging for forgiveness. Clearly the forgiveness had been granted. But as I noted throughout Gen. 44, they didn't fully get to where they ought to have. The long speech from Joseph reminds us of the father of the prodigal, who was so consumed with his own joy at the prodigal's return that the sinner has hardly a chance to say anything.

Gen 45:14 He fell on his brother Benjamin’s neck, and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck- Only Benjamin is recorded as weeping on Joseph's neck (cp. :15). He was the one who had not sinned against Joseph; the other brothers seem to still be struggling to really believe in Joseph's grace, because prolific weeping would be the natural outcome of the pressure release which would have come from accepting that really, the past was scribbled, and they could be at peace- as Joseph had assured them as early as Gen. 44:17.

Gen 45:15 He kissed all his brothers, and wept on them. After that his brothers talked with him- Perhaps at this point they did confess sin, but if they did, it was only after Joseph had so strongly assured them of his total acceptance of them.

Gen 45:16 The report of it was heard in Pharaoh’s house, saying, Joseph’s brothers have come. It pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants- Again evidence that Joseph's house was nearby, or part of the palace complex. "Report" translates the same word as "aloud" in :2. The sound of joyful weeping was heard, and the reason was soon given- Joseph's brothers had come. I suggested earlier that Potiphar was somehow around in Joseph's life. He and his family would have recalled buying Joseph and may well have been aware of his background history from the merchants, even if Joseph had not told them his story. So it is likely that it was known that they had done him evil, and now he was rewarding them with good. And Pharaoh was eager to be part of that grace.

Gen 45:17 Pharaoh said to Joseph, Tell your brothers, ‘Do this. Load your animals, and go, travel to the land of Canaan- Pharaoh wants Joseph to tell the brothers what Joseph has already told them. Here we see the similarity between Pharaoh's thinking and that of Joseph. Their relationship enables us to understand how the Lord Jesus can function as God, taking His own initiatives, and yet thinking the same as God; whilst not being God Himself in a Trinitarian sense.

Gen 45:18 Take your father and your households, and come to me, and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and you will eat the fat of the land’- As noted on :17, this was exactly what Joseph had already told them. Dt. 6:11 promised the returning Israelites, who were the first audience of Genesis, that they would be given the good things (s.w.) of the land of Canaan; and the returning exiles were promised the same (Ezra 9:12). This again was all of grace; they would have felt awkward, as cattle farmers, eating what they had not worked to produce. It spoke of the grace of God's Kingdom.

Gen 45:19 Now you are commanded: do this. Take wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come- There was not to be any reason for remaining in Canaan; wagons, which were perhaps unknown in Canaan and the highest transport technology in the world, were sent to Canaan. Absolutely no barrier was to be allowed to stand in the way of their entering a prefigurement of God's Kingdom. This all speaks of the passion of the Father and Son for our salvation, despite our sins.

Gen 45:20 Also, don’t concern yourselves about your belongings, for the good of all of the land of Egypt is yours-  The grace received meant that all petty materialism, all grasping on to what little they had and were fond of, was now dwarfed by the nature and extent of what they were to be given. The news that Joseph was alive and glorified was received rather like that of the Lord's resurrection: initial disbelief, but then the family of Jacob who believed it rose up and left all they had to go to be with Joseph; Israel in AD70 and the last days are likewise bidden leave their stuff and go to be with Christ (cp. Lk. 17:31). "Concern" is literally 'to eye with pity'; they were not to take pity on their belongings, not allowing sentimentality and the human desire to just stick with the old and familiar to stop them from inheriting the grace of this new kingdom. So many people prefer to stay with the old and familiar, even if it means death. Again and again in the whole story we see the struggle to accept grace. Although Joseph urged them not to bring their belongings (Gen. 45:20), the record emphasizes that they did bring them (Gen. 46:1,6,7). The record stresses how Jacob and his sons all struggled to believe the good news of Joseph, they resisted grace, just as we do.

Gen 45:21 The sons of Israel did so- As just noted on :20, there was a strong tendency to remain in Canaan. So they are to be commended for accepting the challenge.

Joseph gave them wagons, according to the commandment of Pharaoh, and gave them provision for the way- As noted on :19, there was absolutely no excuse for them to not now accept the gracious salvation prepared for them. Food for the journey, wagons, clothes, everything was provided. As it is for us. We see again how circumstances repeated; the brothers had earlier brought an untrue report about Joseph to their father, with the blood stained coat as evidence. Now they bring another report to him about Joseph, again with evidence- the wagons. They were being led to repentance and truthfulness by this higher hand of God structuring their situations. And we experience the same.

Gen 45:22 He gave each one of them changes of clothing, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five changes of clothing- The wilderness generation were likewise provided with the wealth of Egypt, clothing and food for their journey in the opposite direction- to inherit Canaan. They must have seen the similarities.

The gift of clothing was to replace the clothing they had torn in grief. Joseph is eager to assure them that his forgiveness has restored things. They had stolen and ripped his garment, but he now gives them garments. And yet, like us with the Lord Jesus, they struggled to believe assurance upon assurance.  

The 300 shekels may allude to 30 shekels being the price of a slave as taught in the law of Moses. They had sold Joseph cheaply for 20. The ten brothers needed to redeem their brother, making a total of 300 shekels. But Joseph paid this for them. Just as we will note on :23 that he effectively did their repentance for them to Jacob, by sending him the gifts of penitence.


Gen 45:23 He sent the following to his father: ten donkeys loaded with the good things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and provision for his father by the way- This was to give a foretaste of the life in Egypt; just as we have a foretaste of the Kingdom life now. Jacob would have been met, as it were, by successions of caravans. The droves of gifts, then his sons, and then the wagons. It was all rather similar to what he had sent to Esau his brother. Yet again, Jacob was being enabled to enter into the feelings of others, and to feel how they felt at what he had done to them. And if we discern it, this happens to us too.

Joseph sent a massive gift carried by many donkeys. This was in order to remind his father of how he had sent a gift in a similar manner to his brother Esau. Jacob would have seen the similarity. Immediately he would have perceived that this was a request for grace, forgiveness and reconciliation. Who had sinned against Jacob? Not Joseph, but the brothers. The gift was therefore as if Joseph was doing the brothers' repentance for them. Just as the Lord at times goes more than the extra mile in bringing us to repentance. We also get this sense when Joseph glosses over their sin by saying it had all been used by God.  

Gen 45:24 So he sent his brothers away, and they departed. He said to them, See that you don’t quarrel on the way- The brethren went forth on this journey to effectively inherit this new Kingdom by grace with the admonition not to fall out with each other by the way. The wonder of the grace received and that which was ahead of them should have made petty differences disappear. But although Joseph had forgiven them and knew they were to some extent repentant, he clearly perceived that they were not very spiritual, although he had accepted them. The self-sacrificial spirit of one for all, all for one which they had displayed before him... was, he realized, the devotion of a moment. On the long hard journey through the desert, that was likely to fade. All that is within us seems to struggle against grace. Twice Joseph pleads with his brothers not to be angry, after he had so graciously accepted them (Gen. 45:5, 24 Heb.). He imagines that they will be tempted to become angry (Heb.) as they travelled the long way home, reflecting inevitably upon the grace of Joseph. Their anger and bad conscience with themselves personally was likely to become transferred onto each other. Joseph was indeed the master psychologist. Joseph understood that having received such grace, the brothers were actually likely to become angry with each other, who had received it. The Lord foresaw this in His parable about the workers who become angry at His grace to those who worked little; and also in His matchless story about the elder brother who became angry at his younger brother’s acceptance. In many families, the child grows up with the feeling that enjoyment is only legitimate if it is somehow merited, and is a reward for some form of ‘work’. And the child within, in the person of the convert to Christ in later life, then tends to view the Kingdom as a ‘reward’ which likewise somehow has to be merited. And yet we cry out with Paul, that the good which we would do, we somehow can’t achieve. And so faith in being in the Kingdom becomes weak. And so instead we must try to recall our response as children, or view the response in children around us, to the receipt of unearned pleasures or gifts. These are the ones most joyfully received and appreciated and remembered. And this is how it is with salvation, the only thing which in our hearts any of us is truly worried about in any ultimate sense. A salvation that is so great, so free, given by a loving Father who rejoices in His children’s happiness and squeals of delight.

Gen 45:25 They went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan, to Jacob their father- There is no mention that they explained to Jacob how they had lied to him, and what they had done to Joseph. This fits with how there is no record of any confession and apology to Joseph after he has revealed himself to them. Again we get the impression that although they were forgiven and accepted, and there were indeed some positive spiritual changes in their attitudes, they were far from being as repentant and spiritually minded as they might have been, and as Joseph had sought to elicit from them. This is comfort to all of us who feel that our response to the Lord's grace is too small and our transformation not as it might have been.

Gen 45:26 They told him, saying, Joseph is still alive, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt. His heart fainted, for he didn’t believe them- There is no record of them admitting their wrongdoing and deception; see on :25. It seems Joseph's heart stopped beating, and he fainted, only to revive when he sees the wagons arrive (:27). As they watched him lying there, perhaps for days until the wagons came, they would naturally have feared that he would die without seeing Joseph. And they would have realized that this was all their fault. The lie of their lives, the sin of their soul, had effectively killed their father, whom they clearly loved and cared for. His bad medical reaction may have been used by the Father to try to provoke in them an open confession of their sin; but still we never read of it. Did all Joseph's efforts to bring the brothers to repentance actually succeed? We conclude that yes, but only in their deepest hearts. Words of repentance and contrition are never really recorded, and even what they say to Joseph after Jacob dies in Gen. 50 appears motivated by fear of consequence rather than contrition. We reflect that Jacob met his brother Esau after 20 years, and achieved a similar kind of reconcilliation between brothers; yes it was reconcilliation on one level, but not really on another. And now again in the Jacob family, brothers have been separated 20 years but their reconcilliation was never total. And they all went to their graveplanks in that state; and yet are all set to rise again in glory at the last day. And so it is with so many believing families. 

Gen 45:27 They told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said to them- But again we note that they did not tell him what they had said, nor do we read of any confession or apology from them. The silence, repeatedly, at every point in the narrative when we would expect this... is quite deafening. We could translate this: "They told him all the words which Joseph had instructed them to say". In this case, we see his sensitivity in sparing making them tell their father what they had done to him earlier.

When he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob, their father, revived- It has been suggested that wagons / chariots were unknown in Canaan; and for desert dwellers like Jacob's family, there were no good roads for them to travel over. And there is the possibility that the manufacture of wheels was not well developed in Canaan. The sudden appearance of Egyptian wagons was what persuaded Jacob; in terms of technology, it was perhaps similar to an airplane landing in a jungle amongst people who have never got close to one, even if they had seen them flying far overhead and heard of them.

Gen 45:28 Israel said, It is enough. Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die- "It is enough" shows the triumph of the value of relationships over wealth- a lesson our world is ever failing to learn. The gifts and opulence were nothing compared to the simple fact that Joseph was still alive.