Genesis 45:3
And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence.
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Genesis 45:3. I am Joseph — Doubtless he had all along been addressed and spoken of by his Egyptian name, Zaphnath-paaneah, or by his titles of office: so that, although in the narrative he is named Joseph, it is probable his brethren had never heard him called by that name by any person in Egypt. Doth my father yet live? — A most natural inquiry this, after he had informed them who he was, and evidently suggested by his love to his father, respecting whose welfare he was anxious to have full information; and it comes in here with great beauty, and by a most easy transition. But who can describe what his brethren now felt? The historian does not attempt to describe it: he only informs us, They could not answer him: for they were troubled at his presence — From a sudden and deep sense of their guilt, and their just fear of some dreadful punishment. Therefore, to encourage them and alleviate their sorrow, he calls them kindly and familiarly to him: Come near to me, I pray you — Thus, when Christ manifests himself to his people, he encourages them to draw near to him with a true heart — Perhaps being about to speak of their selling of him, he would not speak aloud, lest the Egyptians should overhear, and it should make the Hebrews to be yet more an abomination to them; therefore he would have them come near, that he might whisper with them, which, now the tide of his passion was a little over, he was able to do, whereas, at first, he could not but cry out.

45:1-15 Joseph let Judah go on, and heard all he had to say. He found his brethren humbled for their sins, mindful of himself, for Judah had mentioned him twice in his speech, respectful to their father, and very tender of their brother Benjamin. Now they were ripe for the comfort he designed, by making himself known. Joseph ordered all his attendants to withdraw. Thus Christ makes himself and his loving-kindness known to his people, out of the sight and hearing of the world. Joseph shed tears of tenderness and strong affection, and with these threw off that austerity with which he had hitherto behaved toward his brethren. This represents the Divine compassion toward returning penitents. I am Joseph, your brother. This would humble them yet more for their sin in selling him, but would encourage them to hope for kind treatment. Thus, when Christ would convince Paul, he said, I am Jesus; and when he would comfort his disciples, he said, It is I, be not afraid. When Christ manifests himself to his people, he encourages them to draw near to him with a true heart. Joseph does so, and shows them, that whatever they thought to do against him, God had brought good out of it. Sinners must grieve and be angry with themselves for their sins, though God brings good out of it, for that is no thanks to them. The agreement between all this, and the case of a sinner, on Christ's manifesting himself to his soul, is very striking. He does not, on this account, think sin a less, but a greater evil; and yet he is so armed against despair, as even to rejoice in what God hath wrought, while he trembles in thinking of the dangers and destruction from which he has escaped. Joseph promises to take care of his father and all the family. It is the duty of children, if the necessity of their parents at any time require it, to support and supply them to the utmost of their ability; this is showing piety at home, 1Ti 5:4. After Joseph had embraced Benjamin, he caressed them all, and then his brethren talked with him freely of all the affairs of their father's house. After the tokens of true reconciliation with the Lord Jesus, sweet communion with him follows.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.

3. I am Joseph—or, "terrified at his presence." The emotions that now rose in his breast as well as that of his brethren—and chased each other in rapid succession—were many and violent. He was agitated by sympathy and joy; they were astonished, confounded, terrified; and betrayed their terror, by shrinking as far as they could from his presence. So "troubled" were they, that he had to repeat his announcement of himself; and what kind, affectionate terms he did use. He spoke of their having sold him—not to wound their feelings, but to convince them of his identity; and then, to reassure their minds, he traced the agency of an overruling Providence, in his exile and present honor [Ge 35:5-7]. Not that he wished them to roll the responsibility of their crime on God; no, his only object was to encourage their confidence and induce them to trust in the plans he had formed for the future comfort of their father and themselves. He repeats his former question, Genesis 43:27, either because he questioned the truth of their former relation, or would be further satisfied in it, it being usual with men to ask over and over again what they long to know; or because he now desired a more particular relation of his father’s condition, and how he did bear up under all his calamities.

They were troubled at his presence, from a sudden and deep sense of their horrid guilt, and their just fear of some dreadful punishment.

And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph,.... As soon as he could compose himself a little, and utter his words, the first thing he said was, that he was Joseph; that was his right name, his Hebrew name; though he was called by the Egyptians Zaphnathpaaneah, and by which name Joseph's brethren only knew him, if they knew his name at all; and it must be very startling to them to bear this sound, and to be told by himself that that was his name; and which was not all he meant and they understood, but that he was Joseph their brother as afterwards expressed:

doth my father yet live? this he knew before, for they had told him he was alive; wherefore he puts this question not through ignorance, or as doubting but to express his affliction for his father, and his joy that he was alive:

and his brethren could not answer him; they were so surprised and astonished; they were like men thunderstruck, they were not able to utter a word for awhile:

for they were troubled at his presence; the sin of selling him came fresh into their minds, the guilt of it pressed their consciences, and the circumstances that Joseph was in filled them with fear that he would avenge himself on them.

And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence.
3. doth my father yet live?] This question has seemed to some a strange one after the interviews which Joseph has already had (Genesis 43:27-28). But the thought of his father is uppermost in his mind, and in the agitation of the moment the turn which he gives to this first question seems to imply a desire to forget the last occasion on which they had met as brothers. He does not wait for an answer, or expect one.

they were troubled, &c.] Cf. Genesis 50:15-21. No wonder that confusion and consternation made them speechless.

Verse 3. - And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph. The effect of this announcement can be better imagined than described. Hitherto he had been known to his brethren as Zaphnath-paaneah. Now the voice and the appearance of their long-lost brother would rush upon their minds at the first sound of the familiar name, and fill them with apprehension. Probably Joseph's discernment of this in their countenances was the reason why he asked so abruptly after Jacob. Doth my father yet live? It is not now "the old man of whom ye spake" (Genesis 43:27) for whom Joseph inquires, but his own beloved and revered parent - "my father." "Before it was a question of courtesy, but now of love" (Alford). And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled (or cast into a trepidation, hence terrified) at his presence - literally, before his face. Not only did his present greatness overawe them, but the recollection of their former crimes against him filled them with alarm. Genesis 45:3As soon as all the rest were gone, he broke out into such loud weeping, that the Egyptians outside could hear it; and the house of Pharaoh, i.e., the royal family, was told of it (cf. Genesis 45:2 and Genesis 45:16). He then said to his brethren: "I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?" That his father was still living, he had not only been informed before (Genesis 43:27), but had just been told again; but his filial heart impels him to make sure of it once more. "But his brethren could not answer him, for they were terrified before him:" they were so smitten in their consciences, that from astonishment and terror they could not utter a word.
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