Joseph Meets His Brothers (Genesis 43:29)

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Reunions are always emotional. For Joseph upon meeting his brothers though, there were most likely a lot of different and competing emotions.

For starters, it was probably shocking to see them in his own house again, especially after leaving Simeon in prison for months. Did he think they would ever return? How would he treat Simeon if the brothers decided to abandon him also?

Next, consider the fact that the all bowed their heads to the ground when they saw him. And not once, mind you, but twice, which is exactly how many dreams Joseph had in Genesis 37 of them bowing down to him. 

Probably most poignantly for Joseph was the reunion with Benjamin. The Text really emphasizes the emotional connection in this passage. It says that Joseph “lifted his eyes” and saw him, then calls Benjamin “his mother’s son.” Everyone else in the room is his half-brother; Benjamin is the only full-blood brother he has.

To compound this point, Genesis 37 says that Joseph was so emotional that he ran out of the room and looked for a place to weep. It was only after he washed his face and “controlled himself” that he was able to join the lunch gathering again. When they sat down to eat, Benjamin’s portion was five times greater than anyone else’s (Genesis 43:34).

It’s hard to know how much of this the brothers themselves saw. I’m sure they thought it was odd that they were invited to dine at the house of a government official, especially one that had accused them of such treachery. Even if they weren’t, they were just simple grain-purchasers from another country. What could Joseph want with them?

One thing we know they saw was the arrangement of chairs at lunch. In ancient times, it was customary to place people in order of importance or rank (ref. Luke 14:7-11).  When the brothers sat to eat, they noticed that they were placed in their exact birth order. 

This couldn’t happen by chance. The odds of eleven random people being placed in any exact order is surely in the millions, if not billions. The only way they would’ve been arranged like this is if Joseph knew who they were.

Even though he hasn’t revealed himself to his brothers yet, it appears that Joseph is already starting to show his hand.