Genesis 50:21
Therefore do not be afraid. I will provide for you and your little ones." So Joseph reassured his brothers and spoke kindly to them.
Joseph's Last Forgiveness of His BrethrenF. W. Robertson, M. A.Genesis 50:21
Retrospect and ProspectR.A. Redford Genesis 50

Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good. Joseph must have been deeply pained by the mistrust of his brethren. They implied that it was only out of consideration for his father that he had been kind to them. Yet Joseph had forgiven them. They could not so easily believe in the forgiveness; just as man now is forgiven by God, but he has the greatest difficulty in believing in the reconciliation. Joseph's brethren sent a messenger unto him, probably Benjamin. They who had once sold Joseph as a slave now offer to be his slaves. The offer is to him humiliating. Moreover, it is great pain to him. To a noble soul designing only good to others there is no greater offensiveness than to have his doings viewed with suspicion. Joseph repudiated the mistrust, and refused the offered self-enslavement. He assures his brethren of full forgiveness in words which must have been as softest balm to wounded spirits. In a spirit of the highest magnanimity he tries even to make them view with complacency the result of their wrong-doing. In the text we have the "grand golden key to the whole of his life's history." Notice how -

I. INTENDED BANE OFTEN BECOMES UNINTENTIONAL BOON. Evil works evil to others, but sometimes good. Intended evil is overruled by God when he has some good object in view. "Man proposes, God disposes." God always knows what the result of certain actions will be. If they are good actions they work in line with his will: if evil, he overrules them. If the horse keeps the road it feels not the rein, but if it will turn aside, the sharp bit must draw it back again. Whatever speculation there may be about our absolute freeness, we feel that we are free. It is the glory of God to be able to trust with freedom a being with such great powers for moral evil, like man. He would teach us to use our wills, by giving us full freedom. We frequently pain him by our misuse and our abuse of our powers. What evil we devise and strive to carry out! The brethren of Joseph even intended murder, and modified it by selling their brother into slavery. They acted more cruelly than some of the men-stealers of Africa. The latter steal strangers to sell them, but these ten men sold their own brother. They thought they were rid of him. Egypt was a long way off; Joseph was but a weakling, and might soon perish. They would be free from his presence, and could divide their guilty gains. They hardened themselves against his tears and entreaties; and even in malicious spite were ready to slay the weeping youth because he did not appreciate their considerateness in selling him into slavery instead of killing him outright. It was an evil deed. Those who looked on could see no good to come out of it. There were, however, several great results.

1. He was personally advanced in life, and was able to make the best of it.

2. He saved thousands of people from perishing, and among them his own family.

3. He was the means of bringing Israel into Egypt, where it developed as a people. Its deliverance gave occasion to the mightiest display of Divine power.

4. He became a type of the Messiah - rejected of men. Thus we know not the results of any of our acts. God can overrule, to the development of character and spiritual power, circumstances seemingly most opposed to our best interests. God knows what is best. He could break the plans of the evil in pieces. Instead of this he oft confounds the wicked by letting them see that the ends they did not desire have been attained in spite of their opposition, and even by the very existence, that the intended bane becomes an unintentional boon. Thus Joseph's brothers found it, and bowed their heads.


1. It is a dangerous thing to scheme against others. Especially is it a dangerous thing when a good man is the object of the attack. It is likely to be checked and to recoil. "A greater power than we can contradict may thwart our plans." There are a thousand chances of check or change. Men have so noticed this that even a French moralist said, "I do not know what hidden force it is that seems to delight in breaking up human plans just at the moment when they promise to turn out well." Yes, there is a "hidden force," ever watchful, ever balancing human actions, ever ordaining, either in this world or the next, the just need of praise or blame, of retribution or reward. See how the scribes and Pharisees held councils against Jesus, the gentle, pure, loving teacher of truth, and healer of diseases, they sought how they might kill him. They excommunicated him, they sent others to entrap him. They succeeded at length in nailing him to the cross. They carried out their evil intentions; but that cross became the throne of the Savior's power, the salvation; and the death of Christ became the life of the world. They went by wagging their heads, but at last they had to wring their hands. They themselves were left in their sin, and their "house left unto them desolate," while unto the Christ they hated all men are being drawn.

2. That God overrules evil's no license to do evil. Many would say, "Let us do evil that good may come." This would suit carnal nature. They would say, "Sin is not so great an evil, since God can overrule it." To talk like this would be like throwing dust in our own eyes when we have reached an eminence from whence we might behold a beautiful landscape. It would be like a youth who, seeing a gardener pruning trees, should take a knife and cut and slash all the trunks. Or, it would be like the act of one who, seeing how an artist had wrought in a picture some blunder into a beauty, should take a brush and streak with black the brilliant sky. We are not at liberty to sin that God may bring good out of it.

3. That God overrules evil should make us feel our dependence on him. If we could succeed in good without him, if all we intended to do could surely be calculated upon, we should become proud. It is well that God sometimes even breaks up our good plans in order that we may learn this lesson. We might even intend good without him otherwise, and that would lead to evil in ourselves. But we are dependent on him to check the evil of our own lives and of others intentions.

4. It should make us hopeful also with respect to our affairs. Surely out of this thought we may get "royal contentment," as knowing we are in the hands of a noble protector, "who never gives ill but to him who deserves ill."

5. It should make us hopeful with respect to the order and destiny of the world. In some way, far off, God's glory may be advanced, even by the way in which he will have subdued, by Christ, all things unto himself.

6. Intended good is not always a benefit to those for whom intended. God intends good to men, and provides a way to bless, but men refuse. See at what a cost the way has been provided. Those who refuse are under worse condemnation. "It were better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them."

7. We must all face our wrongdoing some time or other. We shall find that the evil we have sown has produced a harvest of weeds, which we shall have sorrowfully to reap. We ought to pray earnestly, "Deliver us from evil." - H.

He comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.


1. The dying request of their father.

2. Their own free confession of guilt.

3. Their father's influence with God.

4. Their willingness to utterly abase themselves.


1. He speaks words of peace.

2. He will not presume to put himself judicially in the place of God.

(1)As an instrument of vengeance.

(2)As presuming to change does not join forgetfulness. You forgive only so far as you forget.

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

Abel, Canaanites, Egyptians, Ephron, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Machir, Mamre, Manasseh, Mizraim, Pharaoh
Canaan, Egypt, Goshen, Jordan River, Machpelah, Mamre, Rameses
Afraid, Care, Comfort, Comforted, Comforteth, Consolingly, Fear, Heart, Infants, Kind, Kindly, Maintain, Nourish, Ones, Provide, Reassured, Spake, Speaketh, Spoke, Sustain, Thus
1. The mourning for Jacob.
4. Joseph gets leave of Pharaoh to go to bury him.
7. The funeral.
15. Joseph comforts his brothers, who crave his pardon.
22. His age.
23. He sees the third generation of his sons.
24. He prophesies unto his brothers of their return.
25. He takes an oath of them concerning his bones.
26. He dies, and is put into a coffin.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Genesis 50:21

     5932   response
     8291   kindness

Genesis 50:15-21

     5496   revenge, examples
     5964   temper

Genesis 50:19-21

     4019   life, believers' experience

Genesis 50:20-21

     8301   love, and enemies

Joseph's Faith
'Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.'--GENESIS l. 25. This is the one act of Joseph's life which the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews selects as the sign that he too lived by faith. 'By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.' It was at once a proof of how entirely he believed God's promise, and of how earnestly he longed
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

A Coffin in Egypt
'They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.' --GENESIS l. 26. So closes the book of Genesis. All its recorded dealings of God with Israel, and all the promises and the glories of the patriarchal line, end with 'a coffin in Egypt'. Such an ending is the more striking, when we remember that a space of three hundred years intervenes between the last events in Genesis and the first in Exodus, or almost as long a time as parts the Old Testament from the New. And, during all that period, Israel
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

A Calm Evening, Promising a Bright Morning
'And Joseph returned into Egypt, he, and his brethren, and all that went up with him to bury his father, after he had buried his father. And when Joseph's brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him. And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying, So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin;
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Worst Things Work for Good to the Godly
DO not mistake me, I do not say that of their own nature the worst things are good, for they are a fruit of the curse; but though they are naturally evil, yet the wise overruling hand of God disposing and sanctifying them, they are morally good. As the elements, though of contrary qualities, yet God has so tempered them, that they all work in a harmonious manner for the good of the universe. Or as in a watch, the wheels seem to move contrary one to another, but all carry on the motions of the watch:
Thomas Watson—A Divine Cordial

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

Genesis 50:21 NIV
Genesis 50:21 NLT
Genesis 50:21 ESV
Genesis 50:21 NASB
Genesis 50:21 KJV

Genesis 50:21 Bible Apps
Genesis 50:21 Parallel
Genesis 50:21 Biblia Paralela
Genesis 50:21 Chinese Bible
Genesis 50:21 French Bible
Genesis 50:21 German Bible

Genesis 50:21 Commentaries

Bible Hub
Genesis 50:20
Top of Page
Top of Page