Text for the Week: Restoring Family

Scripture: Genesis 45:1-15

1Joseph could no longer control himself in front of all his attendants, so he declared, “Everyone, leave now!” So no one stayed with him when he revealed his identity to his brothers. He wept so loudly that the Egyptians and Pharaoh’s household heard him. Joseph said to his brothers, “I’m Joseph! Is my father really still alive?” His brothers couldn’t respond because they were terrified before him.

Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me,” and they moved closer. He said, “I’m your brother Joseph! The one you sold to Egypt. Now, don’t be upset and don’t be angry with yourselves that you sold me here. Actually, God sent me before you to save lives. We’ve already had two years of famine in the land, and there are five years left without planting or harvesting. God sent me before you to make sure you’d surviveand to rescue your lives in this amazing way. You didn’t send me here; it was God who made me a father to Pharaoh, master of his entire household, and ruler of the whole land of Egypt.

“Hurry! Go back to your father. Tell him this is what your son Joseph says: ‘God has made me master of all of Egypt. Come down to me. Don’t delay. 10 You may live in the land of Goshen, so you will be near me, your children, your grandchildren, your flocks, your herds, and everyone with you. 11 I will support you there, so you, your household, and everyone with you won’t starve, since the famine will still last five years.’ 12 You and my brother Benjamin have seen with your own eyes that I’m speaking to you. 13 Tell my father about my power in Egypt and about everything you’ve seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.” 14 He threw his arms around his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his shoulder. 15 He kissed all of his brothers and wept, embracing them. After that, his brothers were finally able to talk to him.

Theme- God is trying to bring Abraham’s family together.


  1. What is the importance of Joseph’s silver cup?
  2. Why is Judah speaking on behalf of his brothers?
  3. Why does Joseph call himself “your brother” in v4 and then say “you and my brother” in v12?
  4. How would Joseph’s brothers have reacted when Joseph said that God sent him to Egypt and not them?

Helpful Information

Related texts: Matthew 12:46-50, Acts 7, Ephesians 2:10-22

The story of Judah and Tamar Genesis 38 is meant to parallel the story of Joseph with Potiphar’s wife in Genesis 39 showing how Judah learned the righteousness that Joseph displays.

The story of Reuben in 35:22 disqualifies him from taking responsibility over Benjamin later because he had attempted to usurp his father’s position. The same is true of Levi who had been disqualified for how he treated the men of Shechem in Genesis 34.

The theme of silver runs through the entirely of the story from Genesis 37-45 and we are supposed to watch how the brothers who traded Joseph for silver will respond when more silver is given to them.

For a video with background info click here

For more on how Isaac and Jacob and the years between Abraham and Joseph click here


The story of Joseph and his brothers is a long and rocky one beginning with Joseph’s dreams of power over his brothers and ending when those dreams come to reality. Throughout these chapters we see Joseph experience difficulties and losses as he learns what it means to stay true to God in the worst times. One popular interpretation of Joseph’s time in Egypt is to recognize how he is arrogant toward his brothers when he first dreams of his success and much humbler when he stands before them in reality. We recognize that Joseph learned humility, but I think he learned something more, I think he learned to value his brothers. At the beginning of the story he is arrogant and bossy, acting as though he is better than his brothers and already more important than they are. Their father Jacob does not help this by showering Joseph with gifts and responsibility over his brothers. Joseph is both fed and buys into the idea that he is superior to his brothers and can treat them however he desires, but after experiencing years as a slave he recognizes the gift his brothers are and has a change of heart.

It is often overlooked but in chapters 34, 35, & 38 of Genesis we also see stories revolving around Joseph’s four eldest brothers, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, & Judah. Each of these stories portrays these brothers negatively, and in some way harming the family. But Judah’s story is unique because at the end of the story he learns the meaning of family and about the need for righteousness, he learns the lessons Joseph learns. Judah in his dealings with Tamar learns how to treat others and the value of helping and respecting family. It is Judah then who takes over the leadership role among the brothers when they journey to Egypt for a second time—a position which should by right have been Ruben’s. When the brothers are reunited it is Judah, among all his brothers who has learned the importance of righteousness and the meaning of family, and so it is he alone who is qualified to speak with Joseph. It is because of  the lessons Judah learned that the brothers are reunited and embrace as a family again.

I think the Bible wants us to see the importance of these lessons, Judah and Joseph both have episodes which teach about righteousness. Both brothers learn to appreciate their families and show their family respect and love. And as they learn these lessons they heal the wounds which divided them, we learn later that it took years for trust to build between the brothers but in this moment they begin the journey of healing. I think this episode speaks volumes to us, the generations before Joseph and Judah saw siblings wounding each other and dividing to go their own way. I am left wondering how things could have been different if Jacob and Esau or Isaac and Ishmael could have been fully restored to one another. When Joseph and his brothers reunite as family they begin to form the nation that God promised Abraham he would have. How much grander could that nation have been if Ishmael’s and Esau’s descendants would have been united with it. God’s promise to Abraham was that he would be a great nation and a blessing to the people of the world, but it took three generations before Abraham’s own family could come together and learn to respect and appreciate one another, to begin to found that nation. I think this is a lesson to us that we sometimes can get caught up on the wrong things and in doing so we can overlook our family. Our human tendency is to divide rather than unite, but God is calling us to act like Joseph and Judah and work to reconcile our relationships so God can work through our future. The Joseph story shows this is not easy, his brothers took years to fully trust him, and there certainly was more to the story than what we are told. But when the sons of Israel came together, they were blessed in becoming the people God desired them to be. This reconciliation was not the end of the journey, it was simply the first step in the journey that led to the foundation of Israel. What great things can we accomplish if we are simply willing to heal the relationships of the past and work to move forward in God’s unity and righteousness.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: