Genesis 45:4
Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Please come near me." And they did so. "I am Joseph, your brother," he said, "the one you sold into Egypt!
Forgiveness of InjuryGenesis 45:4
Joseph and His BrethrenSpurgeon, Charles HaddonGenesis 45:4
Joseph's Treatment of His BrethrenCharles S. Robinson, D. D.Genesis 45:4
Separation Ending in UnionW. Hay Aitken, M. A.Genesis 45:4
Darkness Turned into LightR.A. Redford Genesis 45:1-15

Not a stranger, but a brother. Yet they were slow to receive comfort from it. The fact beyond all expectation; the suspicion of the unknown ruler attaching itself to the newly-found brother; the remembrance of their own former cruelty; the doubt whether indeed the past were forgiven, combined to make them "troubled at his presence." Akin to this is the slowness with which the great revelation of the gospel is received, our adoption as sons (Galatians 4:5) through our brotherhood with Christ; members of Christ, and thus children of God. Not the doctrine, for we are familiar with its terms, but the practical reception of it. The gospel preached is "good-will to men;" the foundation on which it rests is the work whereby the eternal Son became our brother and representative (2 Corinthians 5:14). The means of appropriation, belief that God has indeed done this thing for us (Matthew 11:28). Yet even to those who are longing for peace and salvation the message often seems to bring no real comfort. The truth of the doctrine is admitted, but Jesus is not recognized as a personal, present Savior. There is a feeling that something not declared lies behind; that there is some unexplained "if," some condition to be fulfilled, some part of the work to be done, ere it can be safe to trust. Conscious of sin, they do not fully receive the offer as made to them such as they are. The fact is, men often want to begin at the wrong end; to make some worthy offering to God ere they have it to give (cf. 1 Chronicles 29:14; 1 Corinthians 4:7); want to gather fruit ere the tree is planted; to build a spiritual house ere the foundation is laid.

I. GOD'S OFFER PRECEDES FAITH. The gospel proclaims a fact - Christ crucified for us, the fulfillment of Isaiah 53:5. Its primary message is not of something to follow our faith, but of that on which our faith rests. The "foundation" of spiritual life is not our belief but Christ's work (1 Corinthians 3:11). But in practice many seem to regard the right to trust in Christ's work as depending on their being in a fitting state of mind. And thus their mind is turned away from Christ to their own state (cf. Matthew 14:30). No doubt there must be a conviction of need ere the Savior can e welcomed (Matthew 9:12). But the evidence of that conviction is not our feelings but laying our burden upon the Lord.

II. GOD'S OFFER MUST BE RECEIVED BY FAITH - that is, it must be accepted as it is made; not something else put in its place. God's message is, Trust in Christ. To do this is to exercise faith. But the answer often is, I must first see whether I have faith. It is as if when our Lord bade the impotent arise, he had answered, I must first feel that I have the power. Faith depends not on accurate knowledge. The gospel is for the ignorant; and what it claims is that we receive it according to the measure of our knowledge, guided by those means of instruction which we possess.

III. GOD'S OFFER IS TO MAKE US WHAT WE OUGHT TO BE. Christ accepted, trusted, is made unto us wisdom, &c. (1 Corinthians 1:30). Faith leads to more communion with Christ. The Bible becomes a living voice instead of a dead letter. Channels of knowledge are opened, and daily increasing powers are given where the will is to be really Christ's (John 6:68). - M.

Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you.
It was by a strange and seemingly circuitous route that these brethren of Joseph were brought near to him. Between Joseph and his brethren there was an immeasurable distance — all the difference between a nature given over to God and one abandoned to the force of evil passion. We may see in this narrative a type of the ways and means God still employs for bringing the wandering brothers of Joseph's great Antitype near to Him.

I. In order that the brothers may be really drawn near to Joseph, they have first to be separated from him by their own sin.

II. The next step towards bringing them near is their own want.

III. When they get into Joseph's presence they are suddenly subjected to the most unlooked-for and crushing trials.

IV. They are smitten to the heart with the recollection of bygone sins; these are brought to their remembrance as sins against their brother.

V. They were alone with Joseph when he made himself known to them.

(W. Hay Aitken, M. A.)


II. NOTICE, ALSO, THE ILLUSTRATION OFFERED OF THE SEEKING LOVE OF GOD. It is Joseph who makes all the advances here. "I pray you": it is the monarch who invites, the judge who pleads. "Without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better." It was always so. Adam had hardly eaten of the forbidden fruit before the voice of the Lord was heard in the garden asking for him. Our Maker takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but would rather that the wicked should turn unto Him and live.

III. HERE, TOO, IS AN ILLUSTRATION OF THE EXACT DESIGN OF THE GOSPEL. Men need many things: as those brethren needed food then, for themselves, their families, and their beasts. But Joseph knew that temporary relief would amount to little. What they most wanted for all the long future was simply himself in reconciliation. "Come near to me" is exactly what Jesus Christ has always been saying to such as labour and are heavy laden.

IV. So COMPLETE IS OUR ILLUSTRATION IN THIS STORY, THAT IT LIKEWISE EXHIBITS THE NEED OF LAW-WORK IN REDEMPTION. Much as he yearned over them, he would not even for an instant relieve them of the salutary consciousness of so grievous a sin. Hence his earliest words were: "I am Joseph, your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt." No doubt he meant to bring these men into greatest perplexity, and fill them with consternation. The first revelation of the Gospel is very much like a reiteration of the law. In some respects the rays from Calvary resemble those from Sinai; just as in some respects sunshine resembles lightning; but sunshine never strikes, and lightning often clears out a poison of impurity and so makes sunshine more welcome.

V. MARK THE EXCELLENT ILLUSTRATION WE HAVE HERE OF THE REVELATION OF DIVINE GRACE. When those brothers in that awful interview stood suppliant and frightened at the feet of the ruler, there was pictured something very like the literal fulfilment of a dream they must have remembered, when Joseph told them of the eleven wheat-sheaves he had seen bowing before the one upright. "I am your brother": this one disclosure covered the whole ground. Sold — but a brother; a monarch — but a brother; a judge — but a brother! "I am Joseph": here he probably began to talk in their own language; they heard the familiar accents of their home-speech. Benjamin recognizes his own mother's son.

VI. THERE IS AN ILLUSTRATION IN THIS STORY OF THE COMPLETENESS OF PARDON, AND RELIEF FROM PAIN. Watch how solicitous Joseph is lest his brothers should be "grieved or angry with themselves " any longer over that old, acknowledged, but not forgotten sin. When our Saviour perceives that true repentance is already in the heart of a sinner; when He knows that he understands his whole responsibility for his sins; then He is prepared to administer for his comfort some of the sweet assurances he has of God's wisdom in causing even man's wrath to praise Him. Christ seems to say then: "I am the Lord of glory, whom ye with wicked hands have crucified and slain; but God has over-ruled even this crime to His own glory and your redemption; be not grieved with yourself therefore, over-much, for Divine foreknowledge sent Me before you to preserve life."

VII. SEE HERE WHAT AN ILLUSTRATION WE HAVE OF THE SINFULNESS AND FOLLY OF REJECTING THE GOSPEL. Of course, there is nothing in the story which suggests the thought; but there is room for imagination just to make the conjecture: how would it seem? Suppose Simeon, just out of prison, had turned his back upon Joseph's offer! Suppose Benjamin, just delivered from accusation, had refused to have Joseph's arms around his neck! Suppose Judah, his eyes still moist with pleading, had rejected Joseph's kiss! And some have resisted the loving pleading and gracious tenderness of the Son of God who gave His life a ransom for us.

(Charles S. Robinson, D. D.)

I. We think that the condition and posture of Judah and his brethren at the feet of the throne of Joseph, trembling in alarm, well describe THE CONDITION AND POSITION OF EVERY TRULY AWAKENED SINNER.

1. By different methods Joseph had at last awakened the consciences of his ten brethren. The point which seemed to have been brought out most prominently before their consciences was this: "We are verily 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." And though, in the speech which Judah made, it was not necessary to accuse themselves of crime, yet in the confession, "God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants," Joseph could see evidently enough that the recollection of the pit and of the sale to the Ishmaelites was vividly before their mind's eye. Now, when the Lord the Holy Ghost arouses sinners' consciences, this is the great sin which he brings to mind: "Of sin because they believed not on Me." Once the careless soul thought it had very little to answer for: "I have not done much amiss," said he; "a speedy reformation may wipe out all that has been awry, and my faults will soon be forgotten and forgiven"; but now, on a sudden, the conscience perceives that the soul is guilty of despising, rejecting, and slaughtering Christ.

2. A second thought, however, which tended to make Joseph's brethren feel in a wretched plight was this: that they now discovered that they were in Joseph's hands. There stood Joseph, second to none but Pharaoh in all the empire of Egypt. Legions of warriors were at his beck and command; if he should say, "take these men, bind them hand and foot, or cut them in pieces," none could interpose; he was to them as a lion, and they were as his prey, which he could rend to pieces at his will. Now to the awakened sinner, this also is a part of his misery: that he is entirely in the hands of that very Christ whom he once despised; for that Christ who died has now become the judge of the quick and dead, He has power over all flesh, that He may give eternal life to as many as His Father has given Him. The Father judgeth no man, He has committed all judgment to the Son. Dost thou see this, sinner, He whom thou despised is thy Master?

3. Under a sense of all these things — note what the ten brethren did. They began to plead. Ah! nothing makes a man pray like a sense of sin.

II. We turn, however, now to remark, that THE SINGULARLY ROUGH BEHAVIOUR OF JOSEPH IS A NOTABLE REPRESENTATION OF THE WAY IN WHICH CHRIST DEALS WITH SOULS UNDER CONVICTION OF SIN. Joseph always was their brother, always loved them, had a heart full of compassion to them even when he called them spies. Kind words were often hastening to his lips, yet for their good he showed himself to be as a stranger and even as an enemy, so that he might bring them very low and prostrate before the throne. Jesus Christ often does this with truly awakened souls whom He means to save. Perhaps to some of you who are to-day conscious of guilt but not of mercy, Christ seems as a stern and angry Judge; you think of Him as one who can by no means spare the guilty; your only idea of Him is of one who would say to you, "Get thee behind Me, Satan, thou savourest not the things that be of God." You went to Him in prayer; but instead of getting an answer He seemed to shut up your prayer in prison and keep it like Simeon bound before your eyes. Yea, instead of telling you that there was mercy, He said to you as with a harsh voice, "It is not meet to take the children's bread and cast it unto dogs." He appeared to shut his ear to your petitions and to hear none of your requests, and to say to you, "Except ye renounce a right eye sin and a right arm pleasure, and give up your Benjamin delights, ye shall see My face no more," and you have come to think, poor soul, that Christ is hard and stern, and whereas He is ever the gentle Mediator receiving sinners and eating with them, whereas His usual voice is "Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest," to you He seemeth no such person, for He has put on a disguise, and ye understand not who and what He is. But you will perceive, brethren, in reading the narrative, that even when Joseph disguised himself there was still much kindness discoverable in his conduct; so to the awakened sinner, even while Jesus appears to deal hardly, there is something sweet and encouraging amid it all. Do you not remember what Joseph did for his brethren? Though he was their judge he was their host too; he invited them to a great feast; he gave to Benjamin five times as much as to any of them; and they feasted even at the king's table, So has it been with you. Christ has rebuked and chastened you, but still He has sent you messes 'from his royal table. Ay, and there is another thing He has done for you, He has given you corn to live upon while under bondage. You would have despaired utterly if it had not been for some little comfort that He afforded you; perhaps you would have put an end to your life — you might bare gone desperately into worse sin than before, had it not been that He filled your sack at seasons with the corn of Egypt. But mark, He has never taken any of your money yet, and He never will. He has always put your money in the sack's mouth. You have come with your resolutions and with your good deeds, but when He has given you comfort He has always taken care to show you that He did not confer it because of any good thing you had in your hands. When you went down and brought double money with you, yet the double money too was returned. He would have nothing of you; He has taught you as much as that, and you begin to feel now that if He should bless you, it must be without money and without price. Ay, poor soul, and there is one other point upon which thine eye may rest with pleasure; He has sometimes spoken to thee comfortably. Did not Joseph say to Benjamin, "God be gracious unto thee, my son"? And so, sometimes, under a consoling sermon, though as yet you are not saved, you have had a few drops of comfort. Oh! ye have gone sometimes out of the house of prayer as light as the birds of the air, and though you could not say " He is mine and I am His," yet you had a sort of inkling that the match would come off one day. He had said — "God be gracious to thee, my son." You half thought, though you could not speak it loud enough to let your heart distinctly hear it, you half thought that the day would come when your sins would be forgiven; when the prisoner should leap to lose his chains; when you should know Joseph your brother to have accepted and loved your soul. I say, then, Christ disguises himself to poor awakened sinners just as Joseph did, but even amidst the sternness of His manner for awhile, there is such a sweet mixture of love, that no troubled one need run into despair.


1. Notice that this discovery was made secretly. Christ does not show Himself to sinners in a crowd; every man must see the love of Christ for himself; we go to hell in bundles, but we go to heaven one by one. Each man must personally know in his own heart his own guilt; and privately and secretly, where no other heart can join with him, he must hear words of love from Christ. "Go and sin no more." "Thy sins which are many are all forgiven thee."

2. Mark, that as this was done in secret, the first thing Joseph showed them was his name. "I am Joseph." Blessed is that day to the sinner when Christ says to him, "I am Jesus, I am the Saviour"; when the soul discerns instead of the lawgiver, the Redeemer; when it looks to the wounds which its own sin has made, and sees the ransom-price flowing in drops of gore; looks to the head its own iniquity had crowned with thorns, and sees beaming there a crown of glory provided for the sinner.

3. Having revealed his name, the next thing he did was to reveal his relationship — "I am Joseph, your brother." Oh, blessed is that heart which sees Jesus to be its brother, bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh, the son of Mary as well as the Son of God.

4. And then will you please to notice, that having thus proved his affection, he gave them an invitation to approach. "Come near to me, I pray you." You are getting away in the corner. You want to hide away in the chamber alone; you do not want to tell anybody ,about your sorrow. Jesus says, "Come near to Me, I pray you. Do not hold your griefs away from Me. Tell Me what it is you want. Confess to Me your guilt; ask Me for pardon, if you want it. Come near to Me, do not be afraid. I could not smite with a hand that bought you; I could not spurn you with the foot that was nailed for you to the tree. Come to Me!" Ah! this is the hardest work in the world, to get a sinner to come near to Christ.

5. I want you to notice again, having given the invitation, what consolation Joseph gave! He did not say, "I am not angry with you; I forgive you"; he said something sweeter than that — "Be not angry with yourselves," as much as to say, "As for me, ye need not question about that: be not grieved nor angry with yourselves." So my blessed, my adorable Master, says to a poor, cast down, dejected sinner — "As for My forgiving you, that is done. My heart is made of tenderness, My bowels melt with love; forgive yourself; be not grieved nor angry with yourself: it is true you have sinned, but I have died; it is true you have destroyed yourself, but I have saved you."

6. Last of all, having thus given them the consolation, he gave a quietus for their understanding in an explanation. He says, "It was not you, it was God that sent me hither." So doth Christ say to the poor soul that feels itself guilty of the Lord's crucifixion. "It was not you," says He, "it was God that sent Me to preserve your lives with a great deliverance." Man was the second agent in Christ's death, but God was the great first worker, for He was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God; man did it to destroy righteousness, but God did it to save even the ungodly. Man hath the crime, but God hath the triumphing; man rules, but God over-rules.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

A little boy being asked what forgiveness is, gave the beautiful answer: "It is the odour that flowers breathe when they are trampled upon." Philip the Good, when some of his courtiers would have persuaded him to punish a prelate who had used him ill, he declined, saying, "It is a fine thing to have revenge in one's power; but it is a finer thing not to use it."

Benjamin, Egyptians, Jacob, Joseph, Pharaoh
Canaan, Egypt, Goshen
Brethren, Brother, Brothers, Close, Closer, Egypt, Joseph, Nigh, Please, Sold
1. Joseph makes himself known to his brothers.
5. He comforts them in God's providence.
9. He sends for his father.
16. Pharaoh confirms it.
21. Joseph furnishes then for their journey.
25. Jacob is revived with the news.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Genesis 45:1-5

     6718   reconciliation, believers

Genesis 45:3-5

     5365   kidnapping

Genesis 45:4-5

     7740   missionaries, call

Genesis 45:4-8

     6708   predestination
     8281   insight

"And God has thus sent me before you to prepare for you a permanence on the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance."--Genesis xlv., v. 7. In a time of effort, suffering and grief such as this country has never before known, it is well that we should have frequent occasions for a review of the position in which we stand for a strengthening of our sinews to continue the struggle in the spirit of the high and noble resolve which induced our participation in it. This week-end will be a
B. N. Michelson—No. 4, Intersession

Jacob and Doubting Souls --A Parallel
"And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die."--Genesis 45:28. I THINK THAT THE PATRIARCH JACOB may well serve as the type and emblem of a doubting soul, one who has been told the good news of salvation, the gospel of God's grace, but who cannot bring his mind to believe it. Let us think for a few minutes of old Jacob. First of all, he was a man who was very ready to believe evil tidings. When his sons held up before him a coat dipped in the blood
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 42: 1896

Jesus and his Brethren
"Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren. And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard. And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence. And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 43: 1897

Gifts Received for the Rebellious
Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: Thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them. W hen Joseph exchanged a prison for the chief honour and government of Egypt, the advantage of his exaltation was felt by those who little deserved it (Genesis 45:4, 5) . His brethren hated him, and had conspired to kill him. And though he was preserved from death, they were permitted to sell him for a bond-servant. He owed his servitude,
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 2

Letter xv (Circa A. D. 1129) to Alvisus, Abbot of Anchin
To Alvisus, Abbot of Anchin He praises the fatherly gentleness of Alvisus towards Godwin. He excuses himself, and asks pardon for having admitted him. To Alvisus, Abbot of Anchin. [18] 1. May God render to you the same mercy which you have shown towards your holy son Godwin. I know that at the news of his death you showed yourself unmindful of old complaints, and remembering only your friendship for him, behaved with kindness, not resentment, and putting aside the character of judge, showed yourself
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux

The Old Testament opens very impressively. In measured and dignified language it introduces the story of Israel's origin and settlement upon the land of Canaan (Gen.--Josh.) by the story of creation, i.-ii. 4a, and thus suggests, at the very beginning, the far-reaching purpose and the world-wide significance of the people and religion of Israel. The narrative has not travelled far till it becomes apparent that its dominant interests are to be religious and moral; for, after a pictorial sketch of
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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