Genesis 45:1
Joseph's revelation of himself to his brethren in the atmosphere of the purest brotherly affection and grateful acknowledgment of Divine goodness. Only small natures are ashamed of tears. At first the men who had a great sin upon their consciences were only troubled at the presence of their injured brother, but soon the free and full manifestation of his love turns all their fears into rejoicing. Joseph wept for joy at their return to him, and they were henceforth his brethren indeed. Although for a time we carry the burden of our sins and feel their weight, even though we believe that they are forgiven, still as God reveals himself to us and surrounds us more and more with the embrace of his love, we lose the constraint of our painful remembrance, and rejoice with all our hearts in present peace and future glory. - R.







Joseph made himself known unto his brethren.
I. JUDAH'S PATHETIC APPEAL FOR THE RELEASE OF BENJAMIN (Genesis 44:30-34). In this appeal the following points are made:

1. Jacob's strong attachment to Benjamin.

2. That Benjamin was the mainstay of Jacob in his advanced age.

3. A strong sense of personal honour.

II. JOSEPH'S DEEP EMOTION.

1. Manifested in the tears he shed.

2. Manifested in his eager inquiry concerning his dear father.

3. Manifested also in the desire to take in his brothers to his heart.

III. JOSEPH'S DEVOUT ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF GOD'S GRACIOUS HAND IN ALL HE HAD SUFFERED AND ENJOYED. Lessons:

1. A very touching lesson is here taught the sons and daughters of aged parents concerning their greatest need in their declining years — not expensive clothing or luxurious living, but the manifestation of real, tender, loving sympathy.

2. Joseph's readiness to forgive his brothers, and his deep emotion when he saw their sincere love for his father, contain timely lessons, not only for brothers and sisters according to the flesh, but also for brethren and sisters in Christ..

3. The deep insight into the purposes of the providence of God, and perfect acquiescence in them, and joy that they have wrought out good for others, even though at a cost of personal sacrifice, are fraught with instructive lessons.(1) That special light is given to the obedient.(2) That in this, as in so many other features, Joseph is an eminent type of Christ.

(D. C. Hughes, M. A.)

No one doubts that Joseph is a type of Christ; in nothing is he more so than in that significant record,. "there stood no man with him while Joseph made himself known to his brethren." Egypt and its idols were shut out; Pharaoh and his pomp; officers of state; obsequious servants; men of business — "he caused every man to go out from him"; and then in the silence he spoke in his own Hebrew tongue, with no interpreter then, and made himself known to his brethren. What is this most plainly and evidently but a parable of God and the soul? What is prayer but a speaking to God in silence? Silence is the height of worship. Conversing is silencing the world, silencing the tumult of sin, silencing the clamour of the passions. Growth in grace and holiness is but silencing human interests, human love, human pleasures. What is God's purpose in sickness but to create a silence in the soul in which He may make Himself known? So with sorrows, losses, deaths, calumny, persecution: they make a solitude round the soul; "there stands no man with us," but God stands with us, and it is far better. And what are all these things but preparations for, rehearsals before that great last reality — death? At that hour the soul is alone, and a great silence reigns; one by one all persons and things have been severed from the soul; one by one the senses fail, and all communion with the world and with creatures is eat off; most familiar things, most necessary things, faces, sounds, acts, all are not; the soul lives, but lives in silence; the silence deepens and deepens till it becomes absolutely perfect, and then death has come, and the soul finds itself sensibly face to face with God. This is the end of all human life.

(F. C. Woodhouse, M. A.)

I. A BROTHER'S PARDON. Joseph's.

1. Of a great injury.(1) To Joseph.(2) To Jacob. The beloved and trusted son taken from him. His heart well nigh broken by the story that was told him.

2. Of brothers. The crime therefore greater. More easy to forgive the offence of a stranger than of a friend (Psalm 41:9; Psalm 55:12, 13, 20).

3. The pardon magnanimously bestowed. Proved by deeds as well as words. Their sin extenuated. He dwells on the good that came out of it, not on the evil that was in it. Tried to soften down their harsh self-censure. The method of professing pardon may detract from its value, and suggest a doubt of its sincerity.

4. Marked by deep affection. He could not repress his emotions, nor conceal his joy. Judah, the darkest character, not excepted.

5. Practically demonstrated. He will henceforth care for them during the famine.

II. A KING'S GRATITUDE. Pharaoh's.

1. It had been already proved. He had exalted Joseph.

2. He now cares for Joseph's friends. Royally lays himself out for their present good. Strange contrast to the conduct of many kings towards their deliverers and helpers (Charles I. and Earl Stafford; Charles II., and his treatment of the faithful adherents of his house in its misfortunes; also David and Barzillai).

3. It was bountifully expressed. Will have all Joseph's family invited to Egypt. Promises that they shall have " the fat of the land." Sends with the invitation the means of conveyance. Enjoins the free use of means and subsistence. "Regard not your stuff," &c. (ver. 20).

III. A FATHER'S ZOO. Jacob's.

1. Imagine Jacob's home. The old man of 130 years, feeble, doubtful, fearful, apprehensive. Waiting for the return of his sons. Anxious concerning Benjamin.

2. Picture the arrival at home. They are all there. Benjamin amongst them. Simon also. Joyful greeting.

3. They tell their story. Good news. Joseph yet alive! governor of Egypt.

4. Jacob's doubts. He is suspicious of his sons.

5. The arrival of the waggons convinces him. His spirit revives. His great joy. New hopes. He will see Joseph again, and in such a robe of office as his affection could not have provided. What greater joy can a father know than that excited by good news of absent children. Those who leave home with good principles the most likely to create such joy. Religion supplies the only true basis of character. The Lord was with Joseph. He will be with us in our wanderings, if we begin them with Him. Learn: Let love be without dissimulation. Forgive injuries and prove the reality of forgiveness.

(J. C. Gray.)

Joseph recognized his brethren at once, though they failed, as they bowed before the mighty vicegerent of Egypt, to recognize in him the child by them so pitilessly sold into bondage; and Joseph, we are told, "remembered the dreams which he had dreamed of them"; how their sheaves should stand round about and make obeisance to his sheaf; how sun and moon and eleven stars should all do homage to him. All at length was coming true.

I. Now, of course, it would have been very easy for him at once to have made himself known to his brethren, to have fallen on their necks and assured them of his forgiveness. But he has counsels of love at once wiser and deeper than would have lain in such a ready and off-hand declaration of forgiveness. His purpose is to prove whether they are different men, or, if not, to make them different men from what they were when they practised that deed of cruelty against himself. He feels that he is carrying out, not his own purpose, but Cod's, and this gives him confidence in hazarding all, as he does not hazard it, in bringing this matter to a close.

II. Two things were necessary here: the first that he should have the opportunity of observing their conduct to their younger brother, who had now stepped into his place, and was the same favourite with his father as Joseph once had been; the second, that by some severe treatment, which should bear a more or less remote resemblance to their treatment of himself, he should prove whether he could call from them a lively remembrance and a penitent confession of their past guilt.

III. The dealings of Joseph with his brethren are, to a great extent, the very pattern of God's dealings with men. God sees us careless, in easily forgiving ourselves our old sins; and then, by trial and adversity and pain, He brings these sins to our remembrance, causes them to find us out, and at length extracts from us a confession, "we are verily guilty." And then, when tribulation has done its work, He is as ready to confirm His love to us as ever was Joseph to confirm his love to his brethren.

(Archbishop Trench.)

I. THE ENDURING STRENGTH AND WORTH OF FAMILY AFFECTION. Nothing more beautiful in man than this. Age does not congeal it, nor death destroy it. A holy, perennial fire. It begets gentleness, patience, long suffering, forgiveness of injury, oblivion of wrong.

II. THE CONSTANT FEAR WROUGHT BY CONSCIOUS GUILT. The tender emotion of Joseph was not shared by his brethren. His declaration, "I am Joseph," drew from them no glad expressions of joy. They were silent from dismay. "His brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence." Conscious guilt filled them with alarm and anxious questioning. Could he ever forgive them? Since he had them now in his power, and he had become so great, would he not take vengeance upon them? Their sense of guilt had not perished or weakened with time. It was as enduring as Joseph's love.

III. GOD CHOOSES THE WICKED TO ACCOMPLISH HIS DIVINE PURPOSES. Joseph had been sold, from malice, by his brethren into Egypt. And yet God had sent him there. It seems like an irreconcilable contradiction of facts, and yet the thing alleged was true. And our view of the world's events is inadequate unless we believe that God in a similar way always takes a controlling part in the affairs of men. Did this fact lessen the guilt of the sons of Jacob? Did Joseph mean that they were excused on account of it? Certainly not. Their guilt was according to their intention.

IV. THE INVITED FIND GRACE BECAUSE OF THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO THE GOOD, For his father's sake and for Benjamin's sake, Joseph forgave them all they had done to him. What magnanimity of spirit! It was as if he had blotted out their sin and remembered it no more. And his efforts to allay and banish their fears assured them that from him they had nothing to dread. It was a beautiful fore-gleam of the grace of the Gospel. So Christ has sought to assuage our guilty fears by speaking to us of His Father and our Father, and by owning us as His brethren. Well is it for us that we are connected in this way by ties of relationship with the good of earth and sky. If we stood alone, unconnected with others whose prayers and merit move heaven's favour in our behalf to give us further opportunity to repent, or which win for us undeserved consideration from our fellow-men — who show us kindness for the sake of a father, or a mother, or a sister, or some other — it would be far worse with us. But their merit, like charity, covers a multitude of sins in us. We are clad in a borrowed grace, derived from them, and our faults are excused and borne with, and our meagre virtues rated far above their real value.

V. THE GROUND OF PEACE FOR WRONG-DOERS. When Joseph had fallen upon Benjamin's neck and wept, and had kissed all his brethren and wept upon them, "after that his brethren talked with him." The speechless terror exhibited by them at first then vanished away. What cured their trouble of heart? It was the assurance they had that Joseph looked upon them graciously for their father's and brother's sake, and that he entirely forgave their sin. This assurance had been wrought in them by the words and acts of Joseph. The kiss he had given them, and his tears of joy, formed an indubitable token of pardon and reconciliation. In his treatment of them we have, therefore, a hint of God's treatment of men for their sin, and of the way a guilty soul may find peace. Two things are required:

1. A worthy Mediator to whom we are so related that His merit will procure us Divine favour.

2. Indubitable evidence of acceptance and pardon through Him. The Christ was such a Mediator. He was "holy, harmless, undefiled,... higher than the heavens," and "not ashamed to call us brethren." Through our relationship with Him as brethren, we are invested with His righteousness.

(A. H. Currier.)

I. THE EXCELLENCE OF FORGIVENESS.

II. THE SACREDNESS OF FAMILY TIES. The relation of children to their parents, and of brothers and sisters to each other is peculiarly sacred. Other connections we may determine for ourselves; this is appointed by God. It brings great opportunities and great risks. There are no others we can hurt so sorely, or make so glad, as those in our own household.

III. THIS STORY ILLUSTRATES CHRIST'S FORGIVENESS. The great Elder Brother suffers at our hands; yet loves us when we will not love Him, and waits for years till our need shall bring us to His feet. Even then He cannot take us at once to His bosom. The sense of guilt must be awakened, the tears of penitence flow.

(P. B. Davis.)

I. THE RIPENESS OF THE TIME.

II. HIS DELICACY OF FEELING.

III. HIS ENTIRE FORGIVENESS.

1. He strives to prevent remorse.

2. He bids them see in their past history the plan of God.

(T. H. Leale.)

I. JOSEPH'S INTERVIEW WITH HIS BRETHREN,

1. Observe the delicacy of Joseph's feelings in removing all the witnesses of his emotion. Feeling, to be true and deep, must be condensed by discipline.

2. Notice the entireness of Joseph's forgiveness.(1) This may be inferred from his desire to prevent remorse (ver. 5).(2) A further proof of the entireness of Joseph's forgiveness is, that he referred the past to God's will (ver. 8). Upon this we have three remarks to make. First, that it is utterly impossible for us to judge of any event, whether it is a blessing or misfortune, from simply looking at the event itself; because we do not know the whole. Fancy the buying of a slave in a cave in Canaan; and straightway there springs up in your breast a feeling of indignation. Pass on a few years, and we find Joseph happy, honoured, and beloved; two nations at least are saved by him from famine. Secondly, we remark how God educes good from evil, and that man is only an instrument in His hands. A secular historian, treating of mighty events, always infers that there has been some plan steadily pursued; he would have traced step by step how it all came about, and referred it all to Joseph. But from the inspired history we find that Joseph knew not one step before him. Thirdly, we remark that there is a danger in the too easy acquiescence in the fact that good comes from evil; for we begin to say, Evil then is God's agent, to do evil must be right; and so we are landed in confusion. Before this had taken place, had Joseph's brethren said, "Out of this, good will come, let us sell our brother," they would have been acting against their conscience; but after the event it was but faith to refer it to God's intention. Had they done this before, it would have been presumption. But to feel that good has come through you, but not by your will, is humiliating. You feel that the evil is all yours, and the good is God's.

II. THE SUMMONS OF JACOB BY PHARAOH.

1. Remark, Pharaoh rejoiced with Joseph (ver. 16). Love begets love. Joseph had been faithful, and Pharaoh honours and esteems him.

2. The advice given by Joseph to his brethren (ver. 24). We should do well to ponder on Joseph's advice, for when that wondrous message was given to the world that God had pardoned man, men at once began to quarrel with each other. They began to throw the blame on the Jew alone for having caused His death; they began to quarrel respecting the terms of salvation.

3. Last]y, we remark the incredulity of Jacob, "his heart fainted." There are two kinds of unbelief, that which disbelieves because it hates the truth, and that which disbelieves because the truth is apparently too glorious to be received. The latter was the unbelief of Jacob; it may be an evidence of weakness, but not necessarily an evidence of badness.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

I. DISCLOSURE. "I am Joseph." Were ever the pathos of simplicity, and the simplicity of pathos, more nobly expressed than in these two words? (They are but two in the Hebrew.) Has the highest dramatic genius ever winged an arrow which goes more surely to the heart than that? The question, which hurries after the disclosure, Seems strange and needless; but it is beautifully self-revealing, as expressive of agitation, and as disclosing a son's longing, and perhaps, too, as meant to relieve the brothers' embarrassment, and, as it were, to wrap the keen edge of the disclosure in soft wool.

II. CONSCIENCE-STRICKEN SILENCE. An illustration of the profitlessness of all crime. Sin is, as one of its Hebrew names tells us, missing the mark, whether we think of it as fatally failing to reach the ideal of conduct, or as always, by a Divine nemesis, failing to hit even the shabby end it aims at. "Every rogue is a roundabout fool." They put Joseph in the pit, and here he is on a throne. They have stained their souls, and embittered their father's life for twenty-two long years, and the dreams have come true, and all their wickedness has not turned the stream of the Divine purpose any more than the mud dam built by a child diverts the Mississippi. One flash has burned up their whole sinful past, and they stand scorched and silent among the ruins. So it always is. Sooner or later the same certainty of the futility of his sin will overwhelm every sinful man, and dumb self-condemnation will stand in silent acknowledgment of evil desert before the throne of the Brother, who is now the prince and the judge, on whose fiat hangs life or death. To see Christ enthroned should be joy; but it may be turned into terror and silent anticipation of His just condemnation.

III. ENCOURAGEMENT AND COMPLETE FORGIVENESS (vers. 4-8). More than natural sweetness and placability must have gone to the making of such a temper of forgiveness. He must have been living near the Fountain of all mercy to have had so full a cup of it to offer. Because he had caught a gleam of the Divine pardon, he becomes a mirror of it; and we may fairly see in this ill-used brother, yearning over the half-sullen sinners, and seeking to open a way for his forgiveness to steal into their hearts, and rejoicing over his very sorrows which have fitted him to save them alive, and satisfy them in the days of famine, an adumbration of our Elder Brother's forgiving love and saving tenderness.

IV. MESSAGE TO JACOB.

1. It bespeaks a simple nature, unspoiled by prosperity, to delight thus in his father's delight, and to wish the details of all his splendour to be told him. A statesman who takes most pleasure in his elevation because of the good he can do by it, and because it will please the old people at home, must be a pure and lovable man. The command has another justification in the necessity to assure his father of the wisdom of so great a change. God had sent him into the promised land, and a very plain Divine injunction was needed to warrant his leaving it. Such a one was afterwards given in vision; but the most emphatic account of his son's honour and power was none the less required to make the old Jacob willing to abandon so much, and go into such strange conditions.

2. We have another instance of the difference between man's purposes and God's counsel in this message. Joseph's only thought is to afford his family temporary shelter during the coming five years of famine. Neither he nor they knew that this was the fulfilment of the covenant with Abraham, and the bringing of them into the land of their oppression for four centuries. No shadow of that future was cast upon their joy, and yet the steady march of God's plan was effected along the path which they were ignorantly preparing. The road-maker does not know what bands of mourners, or crowds of holiday makers, or troops of armed men, may pass along it.

V. THE KISS OF FULL RECONCILIATION AND FRANK COMMUNION. The history of Jacob's household had hitherto been full of sins against family life. Now, at last, they taste the sweetness of fraternal love. Joseph, against whom they had sinned, takes the initiative, flinging himself with tears on the neck of Benjamin, his own mother's son, nearer to him than all the others, crowding his pent-up love in one long kiss. Then, with less of passionate affection, but more of pardoning love, he kisses his contrite brothers. The offender is ever less ready to show love than the offended. The first step towards reconciliation, whether of man with man or of man with God, comes from the aggrieved. We always hate those whom we have harmed; and if enmity were only ended by the advances of the wrong-doer, it would be perpetual. The injured has the prerogative of praying the injurer to be reconciled. So was it in Pharaoh's throne-room on that long past day; so is it still in the audience chamber of heaven. "He that might the vantage best have took, found out the remedy." "We love Him, because He first loved us."

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

"I am Joseph."

1. It is an expression of great humility. The governor of Egypt remembered that he was Joseph, a Hebrew — the son of an old pilgrim who now sojourned in Canaan, and the brother of these plain and vulgar strangers who depended on his goodness and solicited his clemency.

2. Here is soft and gentle reproof. He hints at their crime, but without menaces or reproaches. He alludes to it as if he only aimed to palliate it.

3. Here is the language of forgiveness.

(1)Proceeding not merely from a sudden flow of passion, but from settled goodness of heart.

(2)Permanent.

4. Here is a pious reference of his brethren to the wonderful works of Providence. Your Joseph, whom you had doomed to death or perpetual slavery, is employed of God to preserve you and your families from misery and ruin.

5. This is an expression of filial affection; for mark what immediately follows: "Doth my father yet live?" How tender, how affectionate, how dutiful the question.

6. Here is an expression of general benevolence. "I am Joseph, whom ye sold in Egypt God did send me before you, to preserve life." He considered himself as promoted to power, not for his own sake, but for the public good; and to this end he applied the power which he possessed.

(J. Lathrop, D. D.)

1. The modes in which our Lord makes Himself known to men are various as their lives and characters. But frequently the forerunning choice of a sinner by Christ is discovered in such gradual and ill-understood dealings as Joseph used with those brethren. It is the closing of a net around them. They seem to be doomed men — men who are never at all to get disentangled from their old sin. If any one is in this baffled and heartless condition, fearing even good lest it turn to evil in his hand; afraid to take the money that lies in the sack's mouth, because he feels there is a snare in it; if any one is sensible that life has become unmanageable in his hands, and that he is being drawn on by an unseen power which he does not understand, then let him consider in the scene before us how such a condition ends or may end. There is always in Christ a greater love seeking the friendship of a sinner than there is in the sinner seeking for Christ.

2. In finding their brother again, those sons of Jacob found also their own better selves which they had long lost. They had been living in a lie, unable to look the past in the face, and so becoming more and more false. Trying to leave their sin behind them, they always found it rising in the path before them, and again they had to resort to some new mode of laying this uneasy ghost. So, too, do many of us live as if yet we had not found the life eternal, the kind of life that we can always go on with — rather as those who are but making the best of a life which can never be very valuable, nor ever perfect. There seem voices calling us back, assuring us we must yet retrace our steps, that there are passages in our past with which we are not done, that there is an inevitable humiliation and penitence awaiting us. It is through that we can alone get back to the good we once saw and hoped for; there were right desires and resolves in us once, views of a well-spent life which have been forgotten and pressed out of remembrance, but all these rise again in the presence of Christ.

3. A third suggestion is made by this narrative. Joseph commanded from his presence all who might be merely curious spectators of his burst of feeling, and might, themselves unmoved, criticise this new feature of the governor's character. In all love there is a similar reserve.

(M. Dods, D. D.)

Why was it he so long, and by artifices so strange, delayed the disclosure which an affectionate heart must have been yearning to make? There is a question antecedent to this, which forces itself on the student of the narrative, and to which Scripture can scarcely be said to furnish a reply. How came it that Joseph had made no inquiries after his family; or had not attempted to have had intercourse with his father, during the many years that Jacob had been bewailing his loss? — for more than twenty years had elapsed from his having been sold to the Ishmaelites to his meeting his brethren; yet he does not seem to have sent a single message to Jacob, though there was free communication between Egypt and Canaan. Fourteen of those years he had, indeed, been in trouble, and it may not have been in his power to transmit any account of himself; but, for the last six years, he had been ruler over the land; and you might have expected the first use made of his authority would have been to obtain tidings of his father — to ascertain whether he survived — and, if he did, to minister to his comforts in his declining years. Yet it appears that Joseph did nothing of the kind; he attempted no intercourse with his family, though his circumstances were such that, if attempted, it would have been readily effected. It is evident that Joseph considered himself as finally separated from his father and brethren, for we read, as his reason for calling his first-born Manasseh, "God hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house." It might be inferred from this expression, that Joseph regarded it as an appointment of God that he should forget his father's house. At all events, there is ground enough for concluding that it was through Divine direction that he abstained from making himself known; and, though strange would be the silence of Joseph, if you supposed it to have proceeded from his own will, yet there are reasons enough to vindicate it, if maintained at the bidding of God. We would have you remember that Jacob had to undergo the retribution of his grevious fault, in having deceived Isaac his father, and gained by fraud, the blessing. The retribution commenced when he himself was deceived by Laban, who gave him Leah for Rachel; but it did not reach its full measure till he in turn was imposed on by his own sons, who persuaded him that Joseph was slain. God alone could determine for how long a time it was just that Jacob should be a victim of this cruel opposition; yet, when we understand that his being deceived was in recompense of his having deceived Isaac, we may readily believe that Joseph was not sooner allowed to make himself known, because the punishment of Jacob was not sooner complete. It would not be difficult to suppose other reasons; for, by effecting in so circuitous a manner, and after so long a time, the reunion of Joseph with the house of his father, God afforded occasions for the display of His over-ruling power and providence, which hardly could have occurred on any supposition, and which could not have been wanting but with great loss to the Church in every age. But, admitting that Joseph acted under the direction of God, in remaining so many years without intercourse with his father, and that therefore his silence is no proof of want of good affection, what are we to say of his conduct when his brethren were brought actually before him — of his harsh language — of his binding Simeon — of his putting the cup in Benjamin's sack? Joseph, it must be remembered, was an injured man, and the persons with whom he is called upon to deal are those from whose hands his injuries had come. Unto a man of less pious feeling, the temptation would have been strong of using his present superiority in avenging the wrongs which had been heaped upon his youth. While, however, Joseph had no thought of avenging himself on his brethren, he must still have borne in mind the evil of their characters; and knowing them, by sad experience, to have been men of deceit and cruelty, he would be naturally suspicious both of the uprightness of their actions, and the veracity of their words. Now, if we keep this in mind, it will serve as a clue to much that is intricate. It was Joseph's ruling desire to obtain accurate tidings as to the existence and welfare of Jacob and Benjamin; many years had rolled away since treachery and violence had torn him from his father — he had been as one dead unto his kindred, and his kindred as the dead unto him; therefore when his brethren who hated him, and cast him out, suddenly stood before him, his first impulse must have been to ascertain whether his father and the brother of his affections were yet among the living. And why, then, you may say, did he not follow the impulse — make himself known, and propose the question? Ah! he knew his brethren to be cruel and deceitful; they might have hated and practised against Benjamin, as they had done in regard to himself: and it was clear that, if Benjamin also had been their victim, they, when they found themselves in the power of Joseph, would have invented some false account as a shield from the anger which the truth must have provoked. Hence the method of direct questioning was not open to Joseph; he therefore tried an indirect method; brings an accusation against his brethren — the accusation of being spies — which he knew could only be refuted by some appeal to their domestic or national circumstances. Thus he throws them off their guard, and by making it their interest to tell the truth, he diminishes in a measure the likelihood of falsehood. Thus far, we ask you, was not the conduct of Joseph intelligible and exceptionable? He wanted information which he could not procure by ordinary means, therefore he took extraordinary means; for, if the brethren never returned, he would know too well that Benjamin had perished; but, if they returned, and brought Benjamin with them, his happiness would be complete. Hence, then, the harshness — though, by taking care that his brethren should depart laden with corn, and every man with his money in his sack, did he but, after all, give sufficient proof that the harshness was but assumed, and that kindness, the warmest and truest, was uppermost in his breast. But what shall we say of Joseph's conduct, when his brethren returned and brought Benjamin with them? It is somewhat more difficult to explain. Strange, that in place of at once falling upon Benjamin's neck, Joseph should have used deceit to make him seem a robber! Though the long delay of his brethren in Canaan might have strengthened the suspicions of Joseph, yet his suspicions must all have disappeared when Benjamin stood actually before him; and we hardly see why he need have put upon himself the painful restraint so pathetically described. "He made haste; for his bowels did yearn upon his brother: and he sought where to weep; and he entered into his chamber, and wept there." And yet still he did not make himself known to his brethren, but allowed them to depart, providing, by concealment of the cup, for the after interruption of their journey. We may suppose that through this strange artifice, Joseph sought to ascertain the disposition of the ten brothers towards Benjamin; there was no doubt but that he was planning the bringing of the whole family to settle in Egypt, and it was needful, before carrying out this plan, that he should know whether the whole family were well agreed, or whether they were still divided by factions and jealousies: thus, by putting Benjamin apparently in peril, convicting him of theft, and then declaring his intention of punishing by enslaving him, he was morally sure of discovering the real feelings of the rest. For if they had hated Benjamin as they had hated him, they would treat his fate with indifference; whereas, if he were in any measure dear to them, the fact would become evident by the manifested emotions. The artifice succeeded — the agony which the ten brothers displayed, when they heard that Benjamin must be kept as a bondsman, put out of question that the son of Jacob's old age was beloved by the children of Leah, and removed the natural apprehension that the feuds of early years remained to mar the plan with which Joseph was occupied. And further, may it not be possible that Joseph wished to assure himself that the children of Rachel were as dear to Jacob now as they had been in their youth. He might have thought that Jacob's affections had possibly been alienated from Benjamin and himself; this he would be naturally desirous to ascertain, before he discovered himself in the ruler of Egypt. If the ten were quite ready to leave Benjamin behind, it would be too evident that they were under no fear of the consequences of meeting their father unattended by their brother, and Joseph would have reason to conclude that Jacob's love had been estranged from the children of Rachel. On the contrary, if the ten showed by their conduct that to return without Benjamin would indeed be to "bring down Jacob's gray hairs with sorrow to the grave," there would be no place for any suspicion: nothing would remain but for Joseph to throw aside his irksome disguise, and hasten to be enfolded in the arms of his parent.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

"I am Joseph!" Joseph, and yet more than Joseph. We are not the same twenty years afterwards that we are to-day. The old name — yet may be a new nature. The old identity; yet there may be enlarged capacity, refined sensibilities, diviner tastes, holier tendencies. I am Joseph 1 It is as if the great far-spreading umbrageous oak said, "I am the acorn!" or the great tree said, "I am the little mustard-seed!" Literally it was Joseph; yet in a higher sense it was not Joseph, but Joseph increased, educated, drilled, magnified, put in his right position. You have no right to treat the man of twenty years ago as if twenty years had not elapsed. I don't know men whom I knew twenty years ago! I know their names; but they may be — if I have not seen them during the time, and if they have been reading, thinking, praying, growing-entirely different men. You must not judge them externally, hut according to their intellectual, moral, and spiritual qualities. To treat a man whom you knew twenty years ago as if he were the same man is equal to handing him, in the strength and power of his years, the toys with which he amused his infancy. Let us destroy our identity, in so far as that identity is associated with incompleteness of strength, shallowness of nature, poverty of information, deficiency of wisdom; so that men may talk to us and not know us, and our most familiar acquaintance of twenty years ago may require to be introduced to us to-day as if he had never heard our name. But the point on which I wish to fasten your attention most particularly is this: That there are in human life days of revelation, when people get to know the meaning of what they have been looking at notwithstanding the appearances which were before their eyes. We shall see men as we never saw them before. The child will see his old despised mother some day as he never saw her. And you, young man, who have attained the patriarchal age of nineteen, and who smile at your old father when he quotes some old maxim and wants to read a chapter out of what he calls the Holy Bible, will one day see him as you never saw him. The angel of God that is in him will shine out upon you, and you will see whose counsel you have despised and whose tenderness you have contemned. We only see one another now and then. Sometimes the revelation is quick as a glance, impossible to detain as a flash of lightning. Sometimes the revelation comes in a tone of unusual pathos, and when we hear that tone for the first time we say, "We never knew the man before. Till we heard him express himself in the manner we thought him rough and coarse, wanting in self-control, and delicacy, and pathos; but that one tone I Why, no man could have uttered it but one who has often been closeted with God, and who has drank deeply into Christ's own cup of sorrow."

(J. Parker, D. D.)

It was his third weeping, the great weeping, although one other had more pain in it. It was the flood of love pent up and pressed back for so many years by man's sin and God's righteousness, now loosed by righteousness and greater love. It was noble, God-like weeping, which we need not fear to interpret by the tears of the Lord Jesus. It not only reminds us of the weeping of Jesus at the grave of Lazarus on the brow of Olivet; it helps us to understand these stranger tears. The spring-head of both was the same, the love of God — though here it appeared as but a little stream, there as the river of life. The immediate moving cause was the same, sympathy with the sorrowful, compassion for the erring — though here the objects of compassionate love were but some twelve persons, seventy at most, there a multitude whom no man can number. Even when He was about to reveal the fulness of His love at the grave of Lazarus, Jesus groaned in spirit and was troubled, because He felt how hard it was to bring men to believe and accept that love: Joseph's soul now travailed with anguish keener than that of Dothan, in the effort to persuade his trembling brothers that he did indeed love them, and wished nothing but their love in return.

(A. M. Symington, D. D.)

There is an old English proverb that tells us that "the longest way round" is, or may be, "the shortest way home." Sometimes there may be no other route at all but a roundabout or zigzag one. It would be impossible for the great lumbering Swiss diligence to climb the Simplon Pass and get over into Italy, were it not for that wonderful zigzag road that so patiently winds right and left, seeming to gain but a few feet in an hour, but at last emerging at the top of the Pass. Military engineers, too, know the value of zigzag. Except on this principle how could the besiegers of a fortress get their trenches up towards the walls? But a moral or spiritual path — that, surely, must never be tortuous: are we not to "make straight paths for our feet, and look right on?" And yet there is at least one branch of Christian duty in which a patient zigzag course is often the most effectual; and that is in laying siege to another's soul. Nathan's parable is a familiar instance: what success could he have expected if he had attacked David with a direct charge? Our Lord's treatment of the lawyer in the tenth chapter of St. Luke — not answering directly his question as to who his neighbour was, but telling him a story first and making him apply it — is a case of yet higher authority; and so is His dealing with the Syro-Phoenician woman. And does not God deal so with us now? And what was the object of these strange dealings — of this zigzag course? It was twofold:

1. to test their character, to see whether they repented of their past life, whether they were now good sons to Jacob, and good brothers to Benjamin;

2. If their disposition was not changed, to change it.

(E. Stock)

While Octavius was at Samos after the battle of Actium, which made him master of the universe, he held a council to examine the prisoners who had been engaged in Antony's party. Among the rest there was brought before him an old man, Metellus, oppressed with years and infirmities, disfigured with a long beard, a neglected head of hair, and tattered clothes. The son of this Metellus was one of the judges; but it was with great difficulty he knew his father in the deplorable condition in which he saw him. At last, however, having recollected his features, instead of being ashamed to own him, he ran to embrace him, and begged Caesar that they might be put to death together.

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