Mar 14–Mar 20 (Genesis 42–50) Come Follow Me Insights with Taylor and Tyler – powered by Happy Scribe
And I’m Tyler.
This is Book of Mormon Centrals. Come follow me. Insights today, Genesis 42 to 50.
So today’s block of scriptures that we’re going to cover these chapters. Let’s begin with kind of a satellite view of some of the potential symbols that we can look at as we then come down and start marching through the specific verses within these chapters. So if you look at the ancient world of the Bible, you have the Holy land here. So there’s where Jerusalem is going to be located. So this is seen as the land of Israel, the promised land for these people. And here is Egypt. So look at this geographical lesson from the satellite view for just a moment. So you have the family of Israel living here, or Jacob, his two wives, Leah and Rachel, the two concubines, Bilhazilpa and the twelve sons and Dinah. And the group is growing. They’re here. They then sell Joseph into captivity and he leaves. Keep in mind, promised land is one way to look at the promised land. Symbolically metaphorically would be heaven for us. One way to look at Egypt would be to see it as mortality or Earth life. So we all leave heaven. We come down and live on the Earth in this mortal existence.
And the beautiful part of this story is that Joseph becomes this savior motif, this symbol for Christ who comes to the Earth to prepare the way for our deliverance, from bondage, from captivity. Because all of the children of Israel in this story today, they’re going to come down here into Egypt, and in the course of time, they’re going to fall into slavery. So for the first part of their sojourn in Egypt, it’s all good. They’re not in bondage, kind of like us. When we’re born into mortality, you get eight years where you’re not accountable, it’s good. But then we all who live to that age of accountability fall into the realm of sin and using our agency inappropriately, and we end up in bondage or captivity to sin, and we’re all going to die. So it’s this beautiful metaphor of Joseph. It’s in his captivity. It’s in his bonds as a servant, as a suffering servant, that he actually breaks those Brandt of death and hell to open the way for our deliverance, to then be taken out of captivity and eventually brought back into the promised land of heaven. And we’ll get all of this story of the Exodus and numbers and the stories that take place for 40 years as they’re out here, all with beautiful metaphorical tie ins to this big picture plan of Salvation, of us trying to find our way on the Covenant path back into the presence of God in this symbolic promised land.
And the amazing thing is we get to experience this journey in a metaphorical way every time we go to the temple of our God. This idea of leaving the world behind and learning the path that we walk back into the presence of God, symbolized by the celestial room or in the scriptural context, the Holy of Holies, the very presence of God. And we’ll talk a lot more about this in subsequent weeks coming up. But we wanted to lay this out initially as a lens, one of many lenses. It’s not the only way to read these verses in these chapters, but it’s one that you can look for additional ways that it ties into your story and our journey along the Covenant path so that it doesn’t what we’re trying to avoid is turning our scripture study into exclusively just a history lesson about a group of people who lived thousands of miles away, thousands of years in the past, and we become knowledgeable about what happened to them. But that’s it. We just know names, dates, facts, figures, but it doesn’t have any relevance or connection or applicability to us. And we’re trying to avoid that because we want to follow Nephi’s injunction of likening all scriptures unto us.
So an important way that the Bible writers wanted to signal lessons for us to pay attention to among many lessons is to know the meanings of names. And we’re now in the middle of the Joseph story starts in Genesis 37. It concludes in Genesis 50. And we didn’t mention this in the last lesson that Joseph’s name in Hebrew means to add or to increase. I might add a word here to multiply if you look for that theme of how does God increase the prosperity or add to somebody who has been faithful to him. The last lesson we talked about how Joseph was increased or added, too. And we’ll see the same thing happens throughout this story, that eventually we’ll see how all the tribes of Israel, because of Joseph’s sticking with God and being faithful to God, he’s able to increase everybody. And eventually, when we get into the Exodus story, the Israelites have increased so much that the Egyptians are worried about it and enslaved Israelites. So that’s just another theme you can look for in the story is how God increases the faithful. He increases everything that’s good in their lives if they’re faithful to him.
Beautiful. So as you begin in chapter 42, we’re up in the land of Canaan. And verse one begins with saying, now, when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do you look one upon another? Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt. Get Ye down thither and buy for us from fence that we may live and not die. Now again, we’ve said this before, we’ll say it again. There’s no analogy in the scriptures that’s perfect, that fits every single aspect of whatever it is that it’s symbolizing for you. And so you have to be careful when you get into this, comparing symbols to real doctrines or real historical events. In this context, there is a part of this story that you could connect, but another part that would make no sense at all to our premortal life. It’s almost as if you could say, this is interesting. Is it possible you could look at us living in the presence of our heavenly parents? Before we were born, we had progressed to a certain point. And now if we wanted to continue to grow and progress, we were going to have to leave the promised land, have to leave heaven, this land that has been promised to all of us if we’ll stay faithful.
Isn’t it ironic that in order to attain it forever, we would have to leave for a season and go down to a symbolic Egypt to be able to continue our growth and our progression? So ten of the brothers, the ten oldest brothers, left to go down to Egypt. Now, let’s do some really quick calculations here for a minute. What do we know about Benjamin, the 12th child, the younger brother of Joseph, from his mother, Rachel. So we know that Rachel died in childbirth, giving birth to Benjamin, and she is buried near Bethlehem. And this was on their journey back home down towards Bersheva. And so then sometime shortly after that, we don’t know how many exact years. Joseph is then sold into Egypt and then he was 17. When you get that whole story with the coat of many colors, and then him getting sold into Egypt and then 13 years later is when he gives the prophecy to Pharaoh, about seven years of plenty. So we can start doing some math here. So he’s roughly 37 years old and Joseph is the 11th child, which puts all of his brothers older, and it puts Benjamin something younger than 37.
But it’s been so long since Joseph was with them, he asks a question you’re going to find later on when they actually bring Benjamin down. Is this your youngest brother? Because it’s possible that the last time Joseph saw his brother Benjamin was when he was either an infant or a small child. And in the subsequent 20 years, Joseph may not have any idea what his full brother would have looked like for sure. And so there’s this uncertainty, but it’s this excitement that Joseph senses when these brothers show up and he recognizes them, but they don’t recognize him. That makes me wonder, were there times in the life of Christ where he recognized things in people that he interacted with, but they had no idea who they were talking to, they had no clue who Jesus really was, but he knew them. So let’s jump into this first journey down with ten of the brothers, obviously leaving Benjamin home because Jacob doesn’t want to lose him as well. Israel is very concerned, in fact, he says in verse four, But Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, Jacob, sent not with his brother. And for he said, Jesus pair adventure, mischief befall him.
Now I wonder why he would be concerned that mischief should be followed. Benjamin makes you wonder if he’s so concerned because of what happened to Joseph in the past. I’m not losing Benjamin as well. So they come to buy the corn and notice. Verse six, Joseph was the governor over the land, and it was and he it was that sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brethren came and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the Earth. At this point, Joseph’s reaction is to look at them and remember something. Verse eight. Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him. And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them and said unto them, Ye are spies, to see the nakedness of the land. Ye are come. You can see right in this moment. It’s almost like this plan formulating in Joseph’s mind of I wonder if they’ve changed at all or if they’re exactly the same as they were dealing with me 20 years ago back when they sold me into captivity. Have they changed at all? And so he sets up this little test for them where he puts all of them in prison for three days.
And he tells them after he’s asked them about their family history, and they’ve told him, look, we’re twelve sons, but we’ve got a younger brother at home and one is not anymore, which tells you the bottom of ours. 13 one is not implies that in their mind Joseph is dead. And so they’re telling the truth. And Joseph hears that and he puts them all in prison. Then after three days, he says, okay, here’s how you’re going to prove that you’re not spies. I’m going to keep one of you behind and the rest of you are going to go and get your youngest brother and come back down and show me that you’re really telling me the truth. Here, notice what happens next. Verse 21. They said, one to another, we are very guilty concerning our brother in that we saw the anguish of his soul when he besought us and we would not hear. Therefore, is this distress come upon us? So they’re sitting there talking in there probably Hebrew tongue. Joseph has been speaking to them through an interpreter, so they have no idea that he’s understanding everything they’re saying. And they’re saying, this is happening to us because of what we did to Joseph.
We should have known better. At which point Ruben steps forward in verse 22. And he said, Spake, I nod unto you, saying, do not sin against the child, and you would not hear. Therefore, behold also his blood is required. Ruben saying, I told you guys not to do this, and when I left to do something, you went and sold him. This is bad. That’s a part of the story that perhaps Joseph hadn’t been aware of before. Fascinating looking at verse 23. And they knew not that Joseph understood them free speak unto them by an interpreter. And he turned himself about from them and wept and returned to them again and commanded them or communed with them and took from them Simeon and bound him before their eyes.
We don’t know why him, but this is my speculation. We know Simeon actually was a bit of a hothead. He his brother Levi actually went and massacred a town full of men. My speculation is that Simeon, Mary have been kind of the ringleader, and it’s hotheaded us to want to hurt Joseph. The other brothers really didn’t like Joseph, but he may have been the ringleader. Joseph is like, well, let’s actually have you sit in prison for a couple of months.
We’ll keep Simeon back here, which is interesting, because Simeon is your second son. Reuben is the oldest. He should have been the one in charge. And so Simeon, after Reuben had left that conversation back in the story from 20 years ago, Simeon should have been the one to step up and defend him, and he isn’t. So we don’t know because the scripture doesn’t give us the answer. The fact is, Simon is the second son. He’s the one that Joseph hand picks to say, Keep him behind in prison. The rest of you, go home and get that brother and come back and prove that you’re not spies. You’ll notice that Joseph has them sent home with the sacks of grain, but then to put all of their money back in the sacks. So all of the money is returned. And as they’re going along, they discover that some of the money is there. And then as they all get home, they recognize, Whoa, all of the money has been returned, and we have the grain, and it troubles them. And they tell this story to their father when they’ve come home. And it makes Israel pretty upset.
He’s pretty frustrated that they have divulged this information, that he has this other son, Benjamin, and he’s not about to send them back right then. And I find it fascinating, the rationale that happens here at the very end of chapter 42, because Ruben comes to his dad and says, look, we have got to go back and prove that we’ve got this youngest brother, Benjamin. So tell you what, if we take Benjamin and something bad happens to him, then, dad, you can kill my two sons. Verse 37 and 38. I don’t know about you, but from our 21st century perspective, that’s bizarre.
And to actually make it clear, it would have been unlikely for anyone to actually have acted on that, this is a way of actually impressing upon the mind of how serious Reuben was about committing to something. We’ve used this word before. If you’ve ever signed a mortgage, a mortgage, it’s called a death pledge in Latin that you’re signing your life away, technically, but nobody dies if they don’t pay their mortgage. Bad things happen like bankruptcy. And so what, Reuben is really trying to do here is convinced his dad, you can trust us. I’m so serious about fulfilling my obligation. You can kill my two sons. It’s really more of an exaggeration. That’s just not how we do things today. And that might give us a bit of explanation of why Reuben would say something that sounds quite rash.
So you turn over to chapter 43. And obviously, since he didn’t immediately send the boys back to Egypt to free Simeon and to clear their name and their story, chapter 43 begins, and the famine was soaring the land. And it came to pass that when they had eaten up the corn which had been brought out of Egypt, their father said unto them, Go again. Buy us a little food. We’re going to die. So it’s kind of that critical decision point for Jacob where he says, Well, I’m worried about my son Benjamin safety, but if we don’t send somebody down to get some food, then we’re all going to die. It’s not worth trying to save his life by losing everybody’s life in the process. So you’ll notice that Judah steps forward. Remember, Judah is the brother that came up with the idea to sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites to send him down into Egyptian slavery. Now it’s Judah that steps forward. You’ve probably remembered from previous lessons, some of the struggles that Judah has had in the past.
We might say that the Bible is full of what we would say examples and nonexamples. And it’s helpful to see both. You know what this dark contrast is? And Judah’s life now seems to be an example.
Yeah. So now watch this shift so that we don’t hold Judah hostage to his past and to the poor decisions that he’s made. Look at what he does here and look at what a symbolic type of Christ he becomes in this intercessor mediator kind of a role. So listen to some of these words, verse eight. And Judah said unto Israel his father, keeping in mind, by the way, that Judah is the tribe into which Jesus Christ is going to be born. Mary being in the tribe of Judah as a descendant of this man here. So Judah said unto Israel, his father, Send the lad with me, and we will rise and go, that we may live and not die, both we and thou and also our little ones. He’s saying, I am going to take personal responsibility for Benjamin, and he will not die. I will give my life to preserve him and to keep him safe. Look down at verse nine. He continues, I will be surety for him of my hands shalt thou require him. If I bring him not unto thee and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame forever.
This Christlike owning of the situation is profound. Put it on me. I’ll take the full weight and the full responsibility for his life. Well, that’s what Jesus did for every single one of us is he takes everything upon himself and gives his assurance to the Father that he is going to walk this path with us. It’s a beautiful analogy. So Father Israel says, okay, well, we’re going to take that money that was returned and take new money. So we’re going to take double the money and take a little present for this Egyptian Lord. And he tells them what to give him in verse eleven and he sends them on their way. So now they come into Egypt, ten of them yet again, because remember, Simeon is in jail and there’s Joseph already there. And now Benjamin comes with his nine brothers on that second journey. And by the way, this is where sometimes symbolism is fun because it’s so variable. You can look at it from so many different angles. In this case, when you think of Jesus coming to the Earth for the first time, most people not recognizing him and then coming to the Earth the second time for his second coming.
Now every knee is going to end up bowing down and every mouth is going to end up confessing, yes, that’s him. In this case, it’s not Joseph who’s coming to them, it’s them coming to Joseph the second time. And it’s here where it’s all going to be revealed. So you get this story where they come in and he tells his Egyptian guards, bring them to my house, go and prepare a nice lunch for them. They’re going to eat in my house with us today at noon. So stop and think about that for a minute. I wonder if there might be some potential symbols that could teach us about coming into the house of in this case Joseph. But in the symbolic Realme into the house of the Lord, where he’s preparing a feast for us, where he’s going to reveal some things to us, where we’re going to hear some things that we didn’t understand before and our mind is going to be opened up to relationships that exist that we’re not aware of when we enter the house. To me, this is a beautiful symbolic temple text on one level. Now, again, every analogy breaks down eventually.
So don’t read too much into that. But notice verse 23, they’re a little concerned about coming into his house. And he said, Peace be to you. Fear not, your God and the God of your Father hath given you treasure in your sacks. I had your money and he brought Simeon out unto them. So there was that concern of, oh no, did he bring us here because he’s really going to punish us and make us pay for what we did. And now he’s going to think we stole this money and are we in big trouble? And I love that idea of peace be to you. Fear not, that is the message of Jesus Christ. When we come to Him with meekness and humility, it’s not one of I’m going to get some things out of you because, quite frankly, there’s nothing that I own that I can give to the Lord Jesus Christ that would make him richer. Everything I have is already in his hands. He holds the universe in his hand. It’s really my heart, my devotion, my agency, that he wants me to be able to lay of my own free will and choice at his feet.
And you see some of that element coming through here.
Let’s plan this a bit more. Let’s tie this back into the Sacrament. We’ve mentioned in the past in the ancient Middle East, if there was a meal going on, you were invited to that meal. It meant that you were in a state of peace with the person providing the meal. So Joseph is actually signaling to his brothers both indeed and in word. He says, Fear not peace unto you that this is a peace offering. When you come to the table to eat, it means we’re at a state of peace. So think about this. When you go to the Sacrament table, you are at a state of peace with God. Even if there have been conflict in the past, even if you guys have been at odds, we all get at odds with God. At some point in our lives, we come to the table. He’s invited us to the Sacrament table, and he’s offering us the emblems of peace, which is his body. And notice that there’s a present brought by the brothers. They don’t come empty handed. When we go to the Sacrament table, we actually sacrifice our sins at the altar there. Right. We basically say, Lord, I am working to give up my fallen nature.
Here is my present to you. And notice that all the things that they bring, all this wealth is actually wealth that they got right back from Joseph. God does the same thing. We bring Him our very best, and he adds to it or increases what we have. In fact, the word Joseph, as we mentioned before, means to increase. So when you go to the Sacrament table, the point there is for you to experience peace with God and for him to increase the good in your life. And that’s, I think, what we have going on here.
Yeah. So he asks them, after they brought their gift in verse 27, he asked them of their welfare. And he then asked, Is your father? Well, the old man of whom you speak, is he yet alive? Because it’s been a while since he’s last seen them. And they respond, yes, he’s in good health, he’s yet alive. And then in verse 29, he saw Benjamin, his brother, his mother’s son. And he said, Is this your younger brother of whom he spoke unto me? It makes you wonder that feeling that Joseph is feeling as he looks at this brother of his that he hasn’t seen for 20 years again, we don’t know how old Benjamin was when Joseph was sold, but either way, 20 years for Benjamin would have made a big difference in how he looks. And so they say, yeah, this is him. And he has to make haste in verse 30 to get out for his bowel’s dead yearn upon his brother, and he sought where to weep, and he entered into his Chamber and wept. There he’s moved with so much love and joy at seeing his brother again that he had to go and cry.
He washed his face, then he went out and he said, set on bread. And then 32 is interesting. It’s this little commentary where it tells you that they set on for him by himself and for them by themselves and for the Egyptians, which to eat with him by themselves because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians. You’ll notice that little line that is an abomination under the Egyptians. What Taylor has been talking about this idea in the ancient world, this concept of table fellowship is a far bigger deal than it is to us today. If you sit down and eat a meal with somebody, it’s like big deal to them. It is a big deal. And it’s fascinating because 400 years later with the law of Moses, they’re going to get some of these same ideas embedded into the law of Moses, where now if you’re in the house of Israel, you actually can become defiled, you can become unclean and ritually impure. If you have table fellowship with a Gentile with somebody who’s not of the house of Israel, well, we see this in reverse here at this experience where this is the way they’re being treated.
Is it’s an abomination to eat with you people? Now keep in mind, later on in this story, we’re going to find out that when Jacob and his family come down into Egypt, Joseph’s going to warn them, he’s going to say, just so you know, when the Pharaoh asks you what your occupation is, you’re going to tell them you’re shepherds. That thing is an abomination to the Egyptians. And most people reading that say would go, what’s wrong with that? Why is that an abomination to be a shepherd? Keep in mind, we don’t have all of the pieces to this puzzle. But what we do understand is that for the Egyptians, especially for like cattle, they see cows very differently. What did the children of Israel do after 400 years of slavery? And they get brought out of Egyptian slavery out into the wilderness, and they think Moses is gone. They build an idol. And what is the idol? It’s a golden calf. And they worship the calf. And so can you see how that’s one possible way that they could say, it’s an abomination to eat with you Hebrews because you eat meat of which we see as being sacred and Holy.
There may also be cultural things going on here. Egypt at this point is like the most powerful, prosperous, civilized location anywhere on planet Earth at the height of human prosperity and civilization. And shepherds are these uncouth, unwashed, dirty vagabonds. And it’s interesting how human nature doesn’t change much. We love to create tribes. We do it with sports or politics, and we even do it with how we treat people from sometimes different countries and different cultures, saying, well, if they’re from that culture or that country, well, then they’re less than me. And I don’t want to be around them because I will look bad. My personal brand will be impacted if I’m associated with somebody who grew up in some other culture. This has been going on for centuries and millennia of humans dividing themselves based on how God has blessed them with different resources. And some people say, I have all these resources. I got them all by myself. They don’t claim that God gave them to them, and therefore other people are not worthy to be with me. And it’s interesting, in the New Testament, God actually has to teach Peter, who cultures this Jew where this has been going on for years among the Israelites and the Jews.
To not want to be around Gentiles, God has to give him this revelation. Like, look, it is okay to hang out with people who did not weren’t born into the house of Israel. They’re part of my children, too. And you need to welcome them in at the table of fellowship.
Beautiful. Now, the fun part of this story. Can you imagine what it would be like for these brothers that now you have eleven of the brothers who are there with Joseph? So every one of Jacob’s sons are here in this room at this point, and Joseph seats them at the table in their birth order without asking them any questions, let’s have you sit here. And that’s Reuben, and then Simeon, and then Levi, and then Judah, and then Dan, and then Nephelle, and then Gadd, and then Asher, and then Isakar, and then Zebulon, and then Benjamin. Can you picture these brothers looking at each other going, oh, how did he do that? That’s amazing. And then to make the test complete. Well, we’re not complete yet, but one more step in Joseph’s test for his brothers to see if they’ve changed. He sends out the food to each of these brothers, and then the food given to Benjamin is five times the volume, and he’s watching. How are they going to respond? Are they still jealous of their younger brother like they were of me? Are they going to treat him with disdain and disrespect and gratefully they passed this test?
So as he then sends them away with grain and all of the money back in their sacks again, and his silver divining cup, actually in the sack of Benjamin, Enos them away, lets him get a little bit of a head start and then send his guards after them. They catch up to them and say, hey, one of you stole this cup. And notice what they said in verse nine. With whomsoever of thy servants it be found. Both let him die and we also will be my Lord’s bondsman. That’s how confident they are that none of them stole this cup. Whoever took it, kill him. Little do they know.
It’S important to note here, if you’ve had kids or seen how kids act and they get into a stressful situation, how often do kids make really exaggerated claims of confidence? So we get this in the Bible sometimes that people make rash vows or rash claims before they really have all the evidence in. And again, it’s not that they’re really going to go murder somebody. It’s just a very powerful way to say 1000%. They are over exaggerating their confidence.
Can you imagine that confidence as they’re sitting there? We for sure don’t have it. Verse twelve. And he searched and began at the eldest and left at the youngest. You can picture as he works his way down the line of the brothers from oldest. Yep, not here, not here, not here. We know it. And they come to Benjamin’s sack and open it. And the cup was found in Benjamin sack. Now can you picture the look on their face? Can you picture the feeling in their heart and the looks that they’re going to give each other at this point as we go back to Joseph’s house and they all fell before him on the ground and he asked them, what did you do after all that I did for you? Why did you do this? And they say, look, verse 16, Judah said, what shall we say unto my Lord? What shall we speak or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants. Behold, we are my Lord’s servants, both we and he also with whom the cup is found. He’s saying, Judah is owning something here. It’s this pseudoconfessional to Joseph.
He’s saying this is actually in punishment for something we did for our other brother 20 years ago. God’s bringing it back to us. That had to warm Joseph’s heart a little bit to see that they’re actually fessing up. They’re owning that past transgression. And Joseph’s response to them is very simple, God forbid that I should do so. But the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant. And as for you, get you up in peace under your father. The rest of you go home. I’m keeping Benjamin here as my servant.
He’s just tightening the screws and just really Joseph knows where the pain point is, the pressure point. He’s just pushing on it to really see have these men become better through their suffering that they won’t break like they did in the past.
And here you go. Verse 18, Judah came near unto him and said, oh my Lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my Lord’s ears.
Which means this is a private conversation between the two of you.
And let not thine anger burn against thy servant, for thou art even as Pharaoh. And then he goes and he tells his long story in verse 19, all the way down through 34. And he’s basically saying, if we go home without Benjamin, then our dad will be brought down to the grave. He will not survive this news. This is the worst possible scenario. I’m not sure how it happened. We brought him down here in good faith that we would bring him home to our father. And we’re very, very concerned. So do anything you want to me or any of my brothers, but just let Benjamin go home. Well, chapter 45 opens with verse one. Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him. And he cried, can you picture this? He’s sitting there in front of all these men and they have no idea who he is. And he starts crying, and he tells the servants cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren. So it’s just the family now. Verse two, and he wept aloud. And the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard, this is some weeping that he’s going through.
And then verse three, Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph, doth my father yet live? Now keep in mind, if you send everybody away, he’s been using an interpreter this whole time, but now everybody’s gone. It’s just him and his brothers. So now he speaks in his native tongue with them, we would assume. And he says, I am Joseph, doth my father yet live? And his brother and could not answer him, for they were troubled at his presence. I guess this speechless moment of wait, what did you just say? You just spoke. Arlene, who are you?
Major plot twist.
And he goes on to say, verse four, Joseph said unto his brother, and come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph, your brother, whom Ye sold into Egypt. Brothers and sisters, I think that for all of us there will be a day when we get to come into the presence of the Savior Jesus Christ. For all of us in the next life, where won’t that be an amazing thing? When all things are revealed, where we get to see past, present, future, all things revealed and recognize Him for whom he really is and who he was in our life and how he saved us, even though we maybe didn’t acknowledge his hand or recognize who it was that was saving us at those various points. I think there’s a beautiful connection here to us in that it’s not just being able to hear him, it’s being able to see him as well everywhere we look. It was Mother Teresa who said that when asked how she was able to do such difficult work with the very poorest of the poor of the poor in her life, I think her response was something like, I look for the face of God in every person I meet.
It’s that idea of looking for the reflection of God in all of those interactions that she has and recognizing his countenance reflected there. And it gives you power to serve and to do good, especially doing good to those who have, despite fully used you or persecuted you in the past.
In this context, I love what Joseph does next. Immediately, he says, and this is the power of forgiveness, because he’s in a long time to think about how do I not let the pain that my brothers did to me kill me? How do I let God’s atonement heal me of pain other people have caused me? And you can see he’s been healed by the atonement. Now, therefore, be not grieved nor angry with yourselves that Ye sold me hither for God did send me before you to preserve life. What a message. How many of us in our lives have been hurt by others? And if we could take the time to say, what is God working out? What Salvation is he causing to happen? Given circumstances that I haven’t chosen for myself or didn’t want for myself, I didn’t plan for myself. How can God turn this to good? And in my life, I have seen in my life, in other people’s lives that we let God work things out. We can see that he can turn anything to good if we’re patient and trusting.
Yeah. The human tendency here would be for Joseph to call back those guards. And now that it’s all revealed and say, okay, here’s Simeon and Levi who were kind of aggressive, I want you to do such and such to them. And here’s Judah, you’re the one who sold me. I want you to do such and such to them. You’ll notice, human tendency is to get revenge, but Christ like tendency is to give Grace, to extend forgiveness and mercy, when especially in these contexts where the people, they’ve changed their hearts, they’ve shifted. So I love the fact that Joseph is not punishing his brothers in this moment because it would be like holding his current brothers hostage to the 20 year past version of themselves. There’s something really symbolically beautiful and Christlike here, when you get verse 15, after all those beautiful verses there at the beginning of chapter 45 of redemption, of forgiveness, of Grace and mercy, it culminates in verse 15. Moreover, he kissed all his brethren and wept upon them, and after that his brotherin talked with him. It’s this reconciliation, this atonement motif that’s taking place here. Now there are many who might be watching this, who might feel like, but I would desperately love for this to happen with me and the Lord.
But I’m a bad person, or I haven’t been as good as I should have been or could have been. I hope that as you study these chapters, you go to heaven in prayer and in meditation and in pondering to ask God how God feels about you, or if God is willing to forgive you and take you into his arms of mercy, into that sweet embrace of Grace, an embrace of Grace where you get kissed by God and where he gives you opportunities to move forward in progression and in faith, rather than look back in regret and in remorse and in fear of punishment and retribution from the Angels in heaven. So once all of this is revealed, the brothers are then told to go back home and share all the good news with dad and bring him down hither. So in verse 26, it says, and they told him that’s Jacob, their father, saying, Joseph is yet alive and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob’s heart fainted, for he believed them not. And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them. And when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob, their father revived.
It’s that beautiful reawakening of when you come to know truth, when you see things clearly, something Awakens inside of us. It’s a new life that Jacob has given where he seems to be on his way to the grave here, but he’s going to get a new lease on life. He’s going to go down in Egypt, and we’re going to get many more years with Father Jacob before he actually does pass away at the end of our story here. Now, as Jacob gets ready to leave Canaan and go down into Egypt, I love the fact that he doesn’t just hear the good news and then jump in the wagons and head down. He does something first, and it’s something that we as mortals often overlook. Look at verse one. Israel took his journey with all that he had and came to Beershiba and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father, Isaac. So he comes to that special sacred place that is highly significant to this family and probably not on the path to Egypt.
It’s actually a diversion.
And he first makes an offering, a sacrifice to God. It’s a think offering here. And God spoke on to Israel in the visions of the night and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I. And he said, I am God, the God of thy father. Fear not to go down into Egypt, for I will there make of thee a great nation. So you get this prophecy given to Jacob. And verse four, I will go down with the end Egypt, and I will also surely bring the up again. And Joseph shall put his hand upon thy eyes. It’s this idea of you are not going down into Egypt alone. I’m going to go with you, and I’m going to be with you. And I’m not going to leave you in Egypt. I’m going to bring you back out of Egypt again someday. So just like I’m going with you in, I’m going to go with you out and bring your posterity eventually back into the promised land. So that frees up Jacob or Israel to just find great joy in his journey down to Egypt, knowing that it’s not the end destination, it’s a means to the end that God has provided for him.
And there are things that are left on set here because the Bible authors just are living in their culture. They understand that in the ancient world, people thought or conceived of their gods as being national gods only over certain territory. And so you wouldn’t actually imagine one God actually moving from one territory to another because that’s an invasion. And here’s God saying, yes, I am the God of the promised land, but I’m actually your God wherever you go. And this is highly unusual in the ancient world. If you’re out traveling, like, say, you’re a Babylonian and you’re going to go travel to Syria, you’re going to worship your gods of Babylon and hope that they can prosper you along the way. But you probably get to Syria and find some other gods you want to worship so they can take care of you while you’re there. That was how people saw it. So this is really, really significant in Jacob’s perspective. He’s like, I have a God who’s not simply just the God of this promised land, but he is the God of wherever I’m at in my life. And I think about this really powerful word we have in the Book of Mormon about how God knows how to sucker us.
And the word sucker literally means to run underneath. And God is like this. He’s like, Jacob, wherever you go, I am there for you. I am running underneath you. You will not only find me if you happen to be in this special land that I’ve set aside, wherever I send you, I am there. It’s just a beautiful promise, and it’s true for all of us. God is the God of the whole world, not just of the certain geographical boundaries here on Earth.
Yeah. If we’re willing to completely acknowledge to God, we actually want to be thy people. I want to be thy son. I don’t want other things of this world to be my God. If we can get ourselves to that point, regardless of what’s going on in the world, regardless of what we might be wrestling with or struggling through or the opposition and trials we might be facing, if we can keep going to him and saying, I want you to be my God. I want to be thy people. I want to serve thee. What can I do? Then we can get that exact same promise given to Jacob for us and it just stays wherever we go. I love that. I love that principle. So now they arrive and you’ll notice it’s at the end of chapter 46 there in the bottom of verse 34 where Jacob informs sorry, Joseph informs his father, Jacob and his brothers, we’re coming in here and Pharaoh is going to let us come in. But every shepherd is an abomination under the Egyptians, just so you know, and for various reasons. So they come in, Pharaoh welcomes them, gives them the finest land there in Goshen.
And then by the way, the word ghoshen is showing up in the like Jerseon.
It’S this Hebrew word that literally means inheritance. So it’s called the land of inheritance, and that’s where the land they get in Egypt.
So the equivalent is going to show up in that Book of Mormon with the Antennae Philippe group of people who get the land of Jewshan an inheritance, a gift. Now the famine gets worse to the point where even though they had stored up seven years of plenty, those stores are starting to run dry at the individual level. So you’ll notice in chapter 47 how Joseph keeps asking for increasingly more sacrifices from the people in order to get the grain they need to make bread and to survive this famine. So in verse 14, it starts with all of their money. And then in verse 17, the famine hasn’t gone away and they still need more grain. So they now trade for the grain with their cattle in verse 17, so they’re giving some of the living things that they own until those are all done. And then in verse 20, Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh, for the Egyptians sold every man his field. So they’re giving up now the land on which they live in order to survive. And then ultimately verse 23, Joseph said unto the people, Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh.
Low here is seed for you, and you shall sow in the land. So it’s as if the famine has ended because you’re now taking the seed and you’re going to sow it in the land you wouldn’t, sow that if you’re still in the years of famine or it would just be throwing your seeds away. So his ultimate sacrifice that he asked them to give is of themselves. Isn’t that interesting to note that he begins with asking them for their money and then their cattle, the living things that they possess, and then their land and then finally themselves. To me, this is a fascinating list to look at and consider that when the God of heaven says, I want to be your God and I want you to be my people, he’s not just asking for us to give an occasional thought to him by saying a prayer or two or reading a scripture or going to a Church meeting every once in a while and then not thinking about Him at any other time. The God of the universe is actually asking for us to give Him everything that we have, to put it all on the altar.
We call that consecration. It’s to hold nothing back. It’s not ever to say, well, the land that I purchased, the home that I live in, that’s mine. I earned it. I deserve that. I paid for it with my money. The point of consecration and saying, I want Thee to be my God, and I want to be Thy people, is to say, Lord, you own all of this. My van, my car, they’re not mine. They’re thine. My home, my land, any animals, or any money I have it’s all thine. And ultimately the hardest thing and the last thing that they gave was themselves. That’s where we try to get in. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is to this point where we no longer wake up in the morning and say, what’s in it for me, God? What can you do for me? But rather when we wake up in the morning and say, Father, here am I, send me, I’ll be Thy Son. Because Jesus taught us how to use that phrase appropriately and how to consecrate our life. And it doesn’t mean that we ignore all of the things of the Earth, like earning money and providing for a family or taking care of things that God has given us or buying house or home or land.
Those things become a means to an end rather than an end in and of themselves, which is how the world sees them, in which we live. So now you’re in Egypt. Jacob is ready to die. He’s been there Mary years, and he knows that the end is near. Joseph hears about that and brings his two sons, Manasseh, and he from to his father’s room, at which point Father Israel wakes up and he tells Joseph, Bring your two sons to me. Now, keep in mind, the birthright son gets a double portion blessing from the father. So one of the ways that Jacob fulfills this double portion is to say, Joseph, bring your two sons. I am going to adopt them. They are going to become my sons. So now you technically have 13 tribes of Israel because we dropped the notion of the tribe of Joseph. And in his place, we get the tribe of Ephemera and the tribe of Manassa Baker’s dozen. It is 13. And so Joseph intentionally puts Manassa at his father’s right knee, the oldest, because the right hand is the birthright hand and Ephraim at the left knee, at which point, blind Jacob crosses his hands and you’ll notice Joseph interrupts him, physically picks up his dad’s hands.
It’s actually a little bothered, too.
Yeah, he’s a dad. This is the firstborn Manasseh. He’s over here on the right hand side. Look at verse 19. And his father refused and said, I know it, my son, I know it. He also shall become a people, and he shall also shall be great. But truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations. And he blessed them that day, saying, in thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manassa. And he said, Ephraim before Manasse. And so he then continues with the blessing. It’s this idea that in the latter days the responsibility for gathering all of the house of Israel again is going to fall on the head of Ephraim. And Manasse is going to be right beside him in that effort. All of the tribes of Israel are going to be looking in the latter days to these two for the gathering effort into this Covenant connection with God. And now here we sit in the 21st century trying to fulfill these prophecies and these visions that have been had by these prophets and patriarchs and matriarchs of old. Now, these are our days.
So many people who have been baptized in the Church have either been a part of or adopted into the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh and others. They’re all represented in people who have been baptized, and every tribe has a role to fulfill. But Ephraim is the one responsible for making sure that this work takes place and spreads forth across all nations, kindreds tongues and Peoples of the Earth. And gratefully Manassehe is that they’re working side by side to bring about this great gathering effort. Now in chapter 49, you get the additional what have been often referred to as the patriarchal blessings of the other eleven tribes. So we already got e from Manasseh being blessed there. Now you get Reuben in verse three. Then you get a joint blessing to Simeon and Lehi. These two brothers seem inseparable in the story verse five and then Judah in verse eight. Fascinating that Judah gets such a long blessing compared to most of the other brothers. It’s Judah and Joseph that get the longer blessings. Look at verse ten within Judah’s blessing, the scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh come.
And unto him shall the gathering of the people be. It’s this beautiful promise of Shiloh, the person through whom, whose right it is to gather everybody, it’s going to come through Judah and he’s going to have this power to be a lawgiver. You’ll notice some of our most famous Kings in the biblical story coming up in Future lessons. King David, King Solomon, and they are from the tribe of Judah and the prophecies among all the Jews, their expectations for a Messiah to come. They are told it will be a son of David who will be the lion of the tribe of Judah, who’s going to come and restore the Kingdom to Israel someday. Then you get these other brothers listed. Verse 13, Zebulon, 14 Isakar, 16 Dan, 19 Gadd, 20 Asher, 21 Neutali. And then 22, you get Joseph, who is told he’s a fruitful bow by a wall or by a well whose branches run over the wall. The way that the Book of Mormon prophets read this is they say, See, this is us. So they’re interpreting this patriarchal blessing, saying, we’re the part of Joseph that grew over the wall. We’re on the other side of the world, but we’re fully of the tribe of Joseph through Lehigh.
We know his genealogy comes through Manasseh. And then in verse 33, right at the very end, Father Jacob, the great patriarch Israel, he gave up the ghost and was gathered unto his people. And Joseph keeps the promise that he made to his dad that he wouldn’t bury him in Egypt. So he has his body embalmed. And then they take a whole group in chapter 50 up to the burial place where his grandfather and father and Leah, his wife, is buried. Rachel isn’t there because she had died near Bethlehem further north. And so look at verse 15. When Joseph’s brother and saw that their father was dead. They said, Joseph will pair adventure hate us and will certainly require us all the evil which we did unto him. They’re like, oh no, we’re in trouble now. And I love the fact that Joseph, as he comes to them verse 19, he says, Fear not for am I in the place of God. But as for you, Ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good to bring to pass as it is this day to save much people alive. I think at the end of all things, Jesus Christ, the great Creator, the great AToneR, and the great Judge could say the exact same thing to all of us collectively to say, don’t sit there in fear waiting for me to Smite you down.
All those bad things that humans did to me on the Earth that brought about a means whereby redemption and atonement could be made to save you so that we could extend this mercy to you. We don’t need to live our life in fear of an angry God who’s just waiting to Smite us down, but rather in love and appreciation for a God who actually cares enough about you to say, I’m giving you the gift of my son to save you. Will you please accept this gift? And the way you accept it is have faith in him, repent of your sins, get baptized into this covenantal connection, receive that gift of the Holy Ghost, and then endure in faith through all of the experiences of life that are going to come your way. And then we don’t need to be afraid. We can just be filled with gratitude and love.
God empowers us, and I love this story was preserved in the Bible to teach us that God’s mercy is far beyond comprehension. We are a bit like Joseph’s brothers that we worry at times. Is God is going to Smite us? Is God going to be angry? And what does he say? Fear not. Be at peace. I’m here to nourish you and so let us receive with gladness, with open hands the nourishing that God wants to provide for us. And as we do that we will see Salvation being unfolded in our lives and fear will diminish.
May the Lord bless all of us to more fully turn heavenward and say we want thee to be our God and we want to be thy people. That’s our prayer and we leave that with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen know that you’re you.
Come, Follow Me resource guide for Genesis 42-50.
Some highlights this week are:
- Casey Paul Griffiths teaches about patriarchal blessings
- Lynne Hilton Wilson shares similarities between Jesus and Joseph
- Taylor Halverson gives some historical background about Egypt
Don’t forget to download the ScripturePlus app for a guided reading plan and additional resources!
Book and Chapter Resources
- Genesis 42-50 Study Guide and Reading Plan
- Guide to Genesis
- Genesis Chapter 42
- Genesis Chapter 43
- Genesis Chapter 44
- Genesis Chapter 45
- Genesis Chapter 46
- Genesis Chapter 47
- Genesis Chapter 48
- Genesis Chapter 49
- Genesis Chapter 50
Come Follow Me Insights
In this week’s episode of Come, Follow Me Insights, Taylor and Tyler continue teaching Joseph of Egypt’s story, highlight some of the symbolism in Joseph’s story, and discuss the process of reconciliation between Joseph and his brothers.
Daily Come Follow Me Videos
Lynne Hilton Wilson explains how Joseph of Egypt was preserved through his trials to save Israel and many others, and compares Joseph’s story to Christ’s.
Jasmin Gimenez Rappleye discusses the two tests of repentance Joseph set up to find out if his brothers had changed and were ready to reconcile with him.
Marianna Richardson shares insights into Joseph’s example of reliance on God and willingness to show mercy.
Annette Marie Tillemann-Dick points out some significant lessons from the journey of Israel’s family into Egypt.
Taylor Halverson explains some of Egypt’s history and how it aligns with the story of Joseph of Egypt.
Casey Paul Griffiths teaches about the blessings Jacob’s sons received and how those blessings parallel our patriarchal blessings.
John Hilton III discusses how we can see the goodness of God in our lives even when we face difficult trials, and how these trials often lead to better things.
Study Deeper with Books on Bible Central
Book of Mormon Central and the ScripturePlus app have teamed up with Bible Central to produce a multi-author, biblical commentary for Latter-day Saints. Each volume provides historical, cultural, and doctrinal insights into the beloved stories of the bible, one passage at a time.
An important lens through which to understand the Bible is through its cultural context. The world of Ancient Israel and its neighbors is a rich tapestry of cultural and historical customs, traditions, and conceptions about the world around them. Brigham Young University professor Avram Shannon walks readers through pieces of the bible that make more sense when looking at the larger picture of Israel’s culture.
The objective of this present volume is to demonstrate the numerous and meaningful ways the Old Testament prevails as the First Testament of Jesus Christ. In point of fact, the Old Testament is a quintessential witness of Jesus Christ! It presents numerous prophecies of Jesus Christ’s first and second comings, scores of names and titles of the Lord, and several straightforward statements that the Lord is our Savior, Redeemer, and Atoner.
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