Genesis 50:17
So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Genesis 50:17. Forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father — Not only children of the same Jacob, but worshippers of the same Jehovah. Though we must be ready to forgive all that injure us, yet we must especially take heed of bearing malice toward any that are the servants of the God of our father; those we should always treat with a peculiar tenderness, for we and they have the same Master. He wept when they spake to him — These were tears of sorrow for their suspicion of him, and tears of tenderness upon their submission.

50:15-21 Various motives might cause the sons of Jacob to continue in Egypt, notwithstanding the prophetic vision Abraham had of their bondage there. Judging of Joseph from the general temper of human nature, they thought he would now avenge himself on those who hated and injured him without cause. Not being able to resist, or to flee away, they attempted to soften him by humbling themselves. They pleaded with him as the servants of Jacob's God. Joseph was much affected at seeing this complete fulfilment of his dreams. He directs them not to fear him, but to fear God; to humble themselves before the Lord, and to seek the Divine forgiveness. He assures them of his own kindness to them. See what an excellent spirit Joseph was of, and learn of him to render good for evil. He comforted them, and, to banish all their fears, he spake kindly to them. Broken spirits must be bound up and encouraged. Those we love and forgive, we must not only do well for, but speak kindly to.His brethren supplicate Joseph for forgiveness. "They sent unto Joseph," commissioned one of their number to speak to him. now that our common father has given us this command. "And Joseph wept" at the distress and doubt of his brothers. He no doubt summons them before him, when they fall down before him entreating his forgiveness. Joseph removes their fears. "Am I in God's stead?" that I should take the law into my own hands, and take revenge. God has already judged them, and moreover turned their sinful deed into a blessing. He assures them of his brotherly kindness toward them.15-21. When Joseph's brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, &c.—Joseph was deeply affected by this communication. He gave them the strongest assurances of his forgiveness and thereby gave both a beautiful trait of his own pious character, as well as appeared an eminent type of the Saviour. The God of thy father, for whose sake pardon those that join with thee in his worship.

Joseph wept; partly in compassion to their fear and trouble; and partly because they still retained a diffidence in his kindness, after all his great and real demonstrations of it.

So shall ye say unto Joseph, forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin,.... Their very great sin, and therefore more words than one are used to express it: unless this repetition should be intended, and signifies that their crime was a trespass against God, and a sin against their brother; and however they are directed to ask forgiveness for it, and urge the relation they stood in to Joseph, in order to obtain it, which they were ready to acknowledge as a very great evil, and of which they repented:

and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father; they urge not only the common relation they stood in to Jacob, but what they stood in to the God of Jacob, being his servants, his worshippers, as Joseph also was; and therefore, being his brethren not only in nature but in religion and grace, they hoped he would forgive their trespass:

and Joseph wept when they spake unto him; by their messenger; being troubled that they should be in such anxiety and distress of mind, which he had a fellow feeling with, and that they should have no better opinion of him, but entertain such distrust of him, notwithstanding all the kindness he had shown them, as to imagine that he should ever deal hardly with them for their former ill usage of him, which was forgiven and forgotten by him long ago.

So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the {e} God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.

(e) Meaning, that they who have one God should be joined in most sure love.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. the God of thy father] Cf. Genesis 49:26. They call themselves “the servants of the God of thy father,” as if it constituted a stronger appeal than “the sons of thy father.” They and Joseph serve one God.

Joseph wept] Cf. note on Genesis 45:1.

Genesis 50:17After their father's death, Joseph's brethren were filled with alarm, and said, "If Joseph now should punish us and requite all the evil that we have done to him," sc., what would become of us! The sentence contains an aposiopesis, like Psalm 27:13; and לוּ with the imperfect presupposes a condition, being used "in cases which are not desired, and for the present not real, though perhaps possible" (Ew. 358). The brethren therefore deputed one of their number (possibly Benjamin) to Joseph, and instructed him to appeal to the wish expressed by their father before his death, and to implore forgiveness: "O pardon the misdeed of thy brethren and their sin, that they have done thee evil; and now grant forgiveness to the misdeed of the servants of the God of thy father." The ground of their plea is contained in ועתּה "and now," sc., as we request it by the desire and direction of our father, and in the epithet applied to themselves, "servants of the God of thy father." There is no reason whatever for regarding the appeal to their father's wish as a mere pretence. The fact that no reference was made by Jacob in his blessing to their sin against Joseph, merely proved that he as their father had forgiven the sin of his sons, since the grace of God had made their misdeed the means of Israel's salvation; but it by no means proves that he could not have instructed his sons humbly to beg for forgiveness from Joseph, even though Joseph had hitherto shown them only goodness and love. How far Joseph was from thinking of ultimate retribution and revenge, is evident from the reception which he gave to their request (Genesis 50:17): "Joseph wept at their address to him." viz., at the fact that they could impute anything so bad to him; and when they came themselves, and threw themselves as servants at his feet, he said to them (Genesis 50:19), "Fear not, for am I in the place of God?" i.e., am I in a position to interfere of my own accord with the purposes of God, and not rather bound to submit to them myself? "Ye had indeed evil against me in your mind, but God had it in mind for good (to turn this evil into good), to do (עשׂה like ואה Genesis 48:11), as is now evident (lit., as has occurred this day, cf. Deuteronomy 2:30; Deuteronomy 4:20, etc.), to preserve alive a great nation (cf. Genesis 45:7). And now fear not, I shall provide for you and your families." Thus he quieted them by his affectionate words.
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