Just as Joseph had told Pharaoh after his dreams, Egypt had seven years with lots of food. Then they had seven years where the plants did not grow. Back home in Canaan, Joseph’s father Jacob was very sad. All this time he had believed that Joseph was taken by a wild animal. Now, to make him feel worse, he did not have enough food for his enormous family and all his animals. He heard that there was extra grain for sale in Egypt.
“Go to Egypt,” he told his oldest ten sons. “Take this money with you and buy as much grain as you can. But leave Benjamin here. I can’t take the chance of anything happening to both my youngest sons.”
And who do you suppose Joseph’s brothers went to when they tried to buy grain? Joseph! The brother they had treated so meanly. But they had no idea it was him. Joseph was only seventeen when his brothers sent him to Egypt. He was thirty when they came to buy grain. Not only had he grown up a lot in thirteen years, men in ancient Egypt wore wigs and eye makeup. This would have made him look very different.
Joseph could see they didn’t realize who he was. So he spoke in Egyptian and had an interpreter translate everything between him and his brothers. He would test them to see if they were just as unkind as when they sent him away.
He wanted to know how his father and younger brother Benjamin were doing. He asked lots of questions, pretending he thought they were spies. They lied and told him one of their brothers was dead. They didn’t want to say what they had done. Joseph had to leave the room to hide his tears. Joseph insisted that they bring their youngest brother Benjamin to prove that they were not spies.
Not knowing that the man they spoke to could understand Hebrew, the brothers told one another, “God is letting this happen to us because of how we treated Joseph.”
Poor Joseph could barely hold back his tears listening to how his brothers regretted sending him away.
When they returned with Benjamin, Joseph gave them another test. He wanted to see if they were still selfish. He pretended that Benjamin had stolen from him and would be put in jail. His older brother Judah insisted on going to jail in place of him. “It would break our father’s heart to lose both of his youngest sons,” he cried. “I couldn’t bear to see my father in such sorrow.”
Then Joseph started crying. The brothers all looked at each other in confusion. Why was this Egyptian official acting so strangely?
Then, to their even greater surprise, he sent away his interpreter, and began speaking to them in their own language.
“Don’t you recognize me?” he asked. “I’m your other missing brother. I’m Joseph!” he told them in Hebrew. “It’s really me and I have been living in Egypt all this time, ever since you sent me here.”
The brothers were terrified! Would Joseph try to get revenge on them for how unfair they had been before? NO! Joseph knew that God always forgives and he chose to forgive his brothers. He told them not to worry because he knew that all the bad things that happened were part of God’s plan to make sure everyone would have enough food.
Joseph’s brothers sent for their father and they all lived happily in Egypt. They had many children and grandchildren there, and became an even larger family.